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Desalination as a way to slow down global drought

Last June 17th, World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was held while Europe and North Africa were being hit by the first severe heat wave of the year. On the occasion, Greenpeace –according to a UN study– warned that effects of desertification at world level affect directly 250 million people, and approximately 1,000 million live in drought risk areas, distributed among more than 100 countries. In addition to the obvious ecological disaster that climate change is likely to produce in decades to come, the losses in economic terms and quality of life are only beginning to be estimated. However, desertification was already identified as one of the main obstacles to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit

In this spirit, the environmental organization reminded that climate change is accelerating irreversible processes of soil loss, and the commemoration of this day is even further meaningful as the thermometer goes well above 35o C in many European capitals at the end of spring. It is necessary to assimilate the repercussion of human and industrial decisions on climatic environment. The effects of global warming on hydrography, rainfall and water evaporation from great reservoirs and irrigation ponds in dry-temperate climatic areas all over the world are growing problems that cannot be ignored or postponed. It is impossible to deny the appalling similarities between people running away from the threat of war and those who escape from progressive desertification, lack of water, floods and hurricanes.

The challenge of making an accurate economic assessment of the agricultural, industrial and human use of water, as well as searching for possible alternatives for its management by upcoming generations, are unavoidable steps to quantify their impacts, not only at present, but also for the future. Different water management systems can be used to avoid the overexploitation of aquifers and water flows in arid regions, involving various types of economical and environmental impacts. Today, in this new way of understanding water and its real value, special attention is being paid to the new era of desalinated seawater accessibility.

Among various action measures proposed by the UN to slow down the expansion of desert areas, modern desalination techniques have turned real the possibility to significantly relieve the pressure of water usage on underground resources, especially in coastal regions. Desalination’s elevated costs –mainly derived from the energy it requires– have been considerably reduced over the last years thanks to technological progress in this field. Desalted water is expected to fulfill new and innovative functions, especially as a support of a wide range of economic and human activities in coastal areas.

Today, reverse osmosis is the most advanced, efficient and environmentally friendly seawater purification technology. Protec Arisawa is aware of the growing weight that innovation represents in finding sustainable ways to supply drinkable water to people living in dry regions. This leading company in producing fiber reinforced plastic pressure vessels for membrane filtration systems is present in desalination’s main scenarios, such as the Middle East or North Africa. For example, Agadir (Morocco) is one of the most thriving regions in Africa, where Protec Arisawa will supply the future Agadir desalination plant with the most modern technology in pressure vessels for filtration pre-treatment systems and reverse osmosis. Once it is completed, this facility will be the biggest desalination plant in Morocco, largely contributing to ensure drinking water supply and water security for local inhabitants, further helping the development of tourism and agricultural industries, the main economic drivers of this region.