In 1790, when Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State, he held a bottle of “purified” seawater to his lips and drank. The water in the bottle tasted only slightly better than untreated salt water, but the potential of this discovery piqued his interest.
Desalination seemed a possible solution to a myriad of problems. Jefferson enthusiastically considered the implications of this water purification innovation for military applications as well as land settlement across America. And he assembled a team of experts to test the science. Unfortunately, it was a farce and Jefferson publicly exposed the fact that Jacob Isaacks had merely used an additive to neutralize the water’s salty taste. “Mr. Isaacks’ mixture does not facilitate the separation of seawater from its salt,” Jefferson stated in a 1791 affidavit.Learn from the best – join us at StormCon, The North American Surface Water Quality Conference & Expo! We’ll be in beautiful Bellevue, WA (just outside Seattle) this August 27-31 and your peers from around the country will be there. Loads of classes, workshops & field trips to choose from. Check out the program here!
Today we are faced with a different sort of desalination dilemma. There is no question that contemporary purification technology is superb and proven highly effective. Over 18,000 plants worldwide produce nearly 23 billion gallons of water each day. Nor is there question that it could potentially supply the 1.1 billion people that lack access to clean water today. “At the moment, around 1% of the world’s population are dependent on desalinated water to meet their daily needs, but by 2025, the UN expects 14% of the world’s population to be encountering water scarcity,” predicts Christopher Gasson of Global Water Intelligence. Converting seawater to fresh, drinkable water seems like an obvious solution to our planet’s water crisis. Or is it?Add Stormwater Weekly and Water Efficiency Weekly to your Newsletter Preferences and keep up with the latest articles on water: green infrastructure, smart meters, stormwater drainage and management, water quality monitoring and water treatment.