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Desalination of Sea is Not a Solution to Tackle Global Water Scarcity: WWF

Turning salt water into drinking water is not a solution to tackle global water scarcity. Attention should rather be paid to conserving supplies, as desalination is an expensive , energy intensive process that releases a vast amount of greenhouse gas, the WWF has said in its report.

"Desalinating the sea is an expensive, energy intensive and greenhouse gas emitting way to get water. It may have a place in the world's future freshwater supplies but regions still have cheaper, better and complementary ways to supply water that are less risky to the environment, said Jamie Pittock, director of WWF's global freshwater programme.

According to Pittock, since a growth in the energy intensive technology would increase emissions and damage coastal and river habitats, greater emphasis on managing existing supplies should be given before the go-ahead is given to major water projects.

New desalination plants, which are primarily located in coastal areas, should also be subject to tighter impact assessments to minimise damage to the marine environment, he said.

Desalination plants already play a major role in providing water for drinking and irrigation in areas such as the Middle East, where freshwater supplies are scarce. But many other nations, including the US, China and Spain are turning to the technology to meet growing demands.

"Water supply, on a global basis, is a problem," said Richard Bowen, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. "Desalination is set to become more important because the demand for water is going to increase, and a large percentage of the world's population is situated in coastal areas, the BBC quoted him as saying.

The study was published as Australia announced plans to build one of the world's biggest desalination plants to supply drinking water to Melbourne.

Southern Australia has been in the grips of a six-year drought, the worst on record. The p
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