Israel embarked on a serious effort towards desalination after a very bad drought in the 90s. The two techniques driving the industry are Thermal Desalination and Membrane Technology.
The company running one of Israel’s plants, IDE Technologies, is the same one building a new facility in SanDiego. It will be interesting to see what effect it has on their water issues. One caveat, according to one of the heads of the project, is that desalination is not really a first step. Recycling is also a big part of Israel’s water program, as “86% is now recycled … providing farmers half of their annual need.”
Desalination may not be the magic bullet to fix California’s water issues, but it can be part of a multi-pronged effort that includes rainwater collection, recycling, and marine layer condensation.
It’s been an “incredible game-changer,” Gilron says. “What it means is that, even in a year where we don’t get enough rain, that difference can be made up from desalination.”
Another cue we can take from the Israeli program is the creation of a central Water Authority. According to them, the US drought problems are caused, in large part, by “hodgepodge management.”