With rising sea levels and diminishing fresh water lakes, we have a serious water crisis. A viable solution is to build thousands of desalinization plants around the world to use for drinking, bathing and agriculture. This will help end the drought epidemic in the United States and in other nations while counteracting rising sea levels globally.
Lake Mead, the source of water for the Hoover Dam, is at only 36 percent of full capacity, the water level is decreasing at a faster rate than previously projected, according to Ian James of the Arizona Republic. Historically low water levels in Gatun Lake have slowed traffic on the Panama Canal to a standstill. Lake Ontario has suffered the driest period since 1966 according to the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board.Both U.S. and European satellites have captured the profound changes in drought-stricken, continually warming California. The last two years have been the driest period in the last 40 years and the paucity of water is visible in the state's plummeting reservoir levels.
Rising Sea Levels
While freshwater levels are falling worldwide, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reports that by 2100 sea levels will rise at least 1.6 feet and possibly as high as 6.5 feet by the end of the century. "A high scenario that assumes a continued rise in global carbon emissions and an increasing loss of land ice; global average sea level is projected to rise about 2 feet by 2045 and about 6.5 feet by 2100."
The UCS reports that an intermediate scenario that assumes global carbon emissions rise through the middle of the century then begin to decline, and ice sheets melt at rates in line with historical observations; the global average sea level is projected to rise about one foot by 2035 and about four feet by 2100.
The best scenario assumes that nations successfully limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius (the goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement) and ice loss is limited. Under this scenario, global average sea level is projected to rise about 1.6 feet by 2100.
The Economics of Desalinization Plants
Thirty miles north of San Diego along the Pacific Coast, sits the Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest effort to turn salt water into fresh water in North America. Each day 100 million gallons of seawater are pushed through semi-permeable membranes to create 50 million gallons of water that is being piped to municipal users. The Carlsbad desalinization plant, which became fully operational in 2015, creates about 10 percent of the fresh water the 3.1 million people in the region use, at about twice the cost of the other main source of water. It is expensive but crucial because this water source is local and reliable. "Drought is a recurring condition here in California," said Jeremy Crutchfield, water resources manager at the San Diego County Water Authority. "We just came out of a five-year drought in 2017. The plant has reduced our reliance on imported supplies, which is challenging at times here in California. So it's a component for reliability."
A second plant, similar to Carlsbad, is being built in Huntington Beach, California with the same 50-million-gallon-a-day capability. Currently there are 11 desalination plants in California, and 10 more are proposed.
The Carlsbad desalinization plant cost approximately $1 billion to build.
How to Combat Rising Sea Levels While Producing Fresh Water
How many gallons of water will reduce sea levels by one inch? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,the area of the world's oceans is about 140 million square miles.
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