Advertisement

Water Desalination: Environmental Impacts and Brine Management

  • Abdulrahman S. Alsharhan
  • Zeinelabidin E. Rizk
Chapter
  • 64 Downloads
Part of the World Water Resources book series (WWR, volume 3)

Abstract

This chapter discusses the evolution of water desalination in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), analyzes the environmental challenges associated with the desalination industry and proposes solutions for the alleviation of desalination-related problems.

The MEOW (State of the environment report—United Arab Emirates. Ministry of Environment and Water, p 36, 2015) stated that: “The UAE adopted water desalination since early 1970s to bridge the gap between limited natural water resources and the escalating water demand for all purposes”. ICBA (Developing federal environmental guidelines and standards to monitor and manage the discharges from desalination plants in the United Arab Emirates, UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, p 119, 2012) reported: “The production of desalination plants increased from 7 Mm3 in 1973 to 1,750 Mm3 in 2015, and in the present, the UAE has 266 desalination plants in operation. The majority of the plants constructed in coastal areas desalinate seawater, while a few plants installed in desert regions are desalinating brackish and saline groundwater”.

Alsharhan et al. (Hydrogeology of an Arid Region: The Arabian Gulf and Adjoining Areas. Published by Elsevier B.V, Amsterdam, 2001) mentioned that: “The multi-stage flash (MSF) distillation is the main desalination technology in use in the UAE, representing 99.8% in Dubai, 88% in Abu Dhabi and 52% in Sharjah. The multi-effect distillation (MED) method represents 30% in Sharjah and 10% in Abu Dhabi”. The reverse osmosis (RO) desalination is 18% in Sharjah, 2% in Abu Dhabi and 0.2% in Dubai. The desalination technologies in the Northern Emirates are mostly RO, with a few MED and MSF plants. Solar desalination is only practiced in Abu Dhabi, which has 3 experimental solar desalination plants in Umm El Nar (Abu Dhabi Island) and Umm Az Zamoul, in the southeastern corner of the UAE. The total production capacity of solar desalination plants is 640 m3/d.

Water desalination has negative environmental impacts on the marine and terrestrial environments. In addition, the desalination plants face several problems such as corrosion, scale formation, membrane fouling and sedimentation. Al Asam and Rizk (Desalination and water environment in the United Arab Emirates: impacts and solutions. International Desalination World Congress. Dubai. UAE, p 41, 2009) referred to: “the disposal of reject brine from coastal or inland desalination plants and its adverse effects on the ecosystems of the marine environment and groundwater”.

Alleviating the negative impacts of the desalination industry in the country should focus on achieving zero-brine discharge by extracting salts and valuable chemicals from reject brines for industrial and commercial uses, incorporating solar-pond technology, using renewable energy sources in desalination and funding research and development in water desalination.

References

  1. Abdul-Wahab SA, Al-Weshahi MA (2009) Brine management: substituting chlorine with on-site produced sodium hypochlorite for environmentally improved desalination processes. Water Resour Manag 23:2437–2454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmed M, Arakel A, Hoey D, Coleman M (2000) Integrated power, water and salt generation—a discussion paper. Department of Soil and Water, Sultan Qaboos University, p 11Google Scholar
  3. Al Asam MS, Rizk ZE (2009) Desalination and water environment in the United Arab Emirates: Impacts and solutions. International Desalination World Congress. Dubai. UAE, p 41Google Scholar
  4. Al Barwani HH, Purnama A (2008) Evaluating the effect of producing desalinated seawater on hypersaline Arabian gulf. Eur J Sci Res 22(2):279–285Google Scholar
  5. Al Dousari AE (2009) Desalination leading to salinity variations in Kuwait marine waters. Am J Environ Sci 5(3):451–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Al Mutaz IS, Al Sultan B (1997) Operation characteristics of Maufouha reserve osmosis plants. The IDA World Congress on Desalination and Water Reuse, Madrid, Spain, 6–9 October 1997, p 25Google Scholar
  7. Al-Nashar AM (2003) Effect of dust deposition on the performance of a solar desalination plant operating in an arid desert area. Sol Energy 75(5):421–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Al Noaimi MA (1999) Evaluation of available water resources and their uses in the State of Bahrain: Bahrain Center for Studies and Research, Series of Studies and Scientific Research Papers 24, p 131 (in Arabic)Google Scholar
  9. Alsharhan AS, Rizk ZA, Nairn AEM, Bakhit DW, Alhajari SA (2001) Hydrogeology of an arid region: the Arabian gulf and adjoining areas. Published by Elsevier B.V, Amsterdam, p 331Google Scholar
  10. Areiqat A, Mohamed KA (2005) Optimization of the negative impact of power and desalination plants on the ecosystem. Desalination 185:95–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cotruvo JA, Abouzaid H (2007) New World Health Organization guidance for desalination. Health and Environmental Impacts. WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, Cairo, p 173Google Scholar
  12. Dickie P (2007) Desalination: Option or destruction for a thirsty world? Report prepared for WWF’s Global Freshwater Program, p 53Google Scholar
  13. DLR (German Aerospace Center) (2007) Concentrating solar power for seawater desalination. Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Germany, p 12Google Scholar
  14. ESCWA (2005) Development of frameworks to implement national strategies of integrated water resources management in the ESCWA countries. United Nations, New York, p 94 (in Arabic)Google Scholar
  15. FEWA (Federal Electricity and Water Authority) (2009) FEWA annual statistical report. Ajman, UAEGoogle Scholar
  16. Hanafi A (1991) Design and performance of solar MSF desalination system. Desalination 82(1–3):165–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hashim A, Hajjaj M (2005) Impact of desalination plants fluid effluents on the integrity of seawater: with the Arabian gulf in perspective. Desalination 182:373–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hassan MH (1998) Major distribution in Khobar aquifer. Eastern Saudi Arabia: Arab. J Sci Eng 23(1C):67–88Google Scholar
  19. Höpner T, Lattemann S (2002) Chemical impacts from seawater desalination plants – a case study of the northern Red Sea. Desalination 152:133–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ibrahim AA, Jibril BY (2005) Production of chemicals from desalination blow down. Alex Eng J 44(5):817–820Google Scholar
  21. ICBA (International Center for Biosaline Agriculture) (2012) Developing federal environmental guidelines and standards to monitor and manage the discharges from desalination plants in the United Arab Emirates, UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, p 119Google Scholar
  22. Käufler J (2007) Experience in Morocco and Abu Dhabi (UAE). SYNLIF Systems GmbH, Berlin, Germany, p 31Google Scholar
  23. Lu H, Walton JC, Swift AHP (2001) Desalination coupled with salinity-gradient solar pond. Desalination 136:13–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lu H, Walton C, Hein H (2002) Thermal desalination using MEMS and salinity-gradient solar pond technology. US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Water Treatment Engineering and Research Group, p 91Google Scholar
  25. MOEW (Ministry of Environment and Water) (2010) Water Conservation Strategy. Ministry of Environment and Water, p 212Google Scholar
  26. MOEW (2015) State of the environment Report—United Arab Emirates. Ministry of Environment and Water, p 36Google Scholar
  27. Patterson RJ, Kinsman DJJ (1981) Hydrologic of framework of a sabkha along Arabian gulf. AAPG Bull 65:1457Google Scholar
  28. Pereira MC, Meddes JF, Horta P (2003) Advanced solar dryer for salt recovery from brine effluent of desalination MED plant. Solar Energy a Sustainable Future, ISES Solar World Congress, Sweden, pp 19–19Google Scholar
  29. Ravizky A, Nadav N (2007) Salt production by evaporation of SWRO brine in Eilat: a success story. Desalination 205:374–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rizk ZS (2009) Inorganic chemicals in drinking water of the United Arab Emirates. Environ Geochem Health 31:27–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rizk ZS, Alsharhan AS (2008) Water resources in the United Arab Emirates. Ithraa Publishing and Distribution, Amman, p 624. (in Arabic)Google Scholar
  32. Safi MJ, Korchani A (1999) Cogeneration applied to water desalination: simulation of different technologies. Desalination 125:223–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Trieb F (2007) Concentrating solar power for seawater desalination. MENAREC 4, Damascus, Syria, p 12Google Scholar
  34. WHO (World Health Organization) (1984) WHO guidelines for drinking water quality, recommendations, Geneva, Switzerland, vol 1. p 130Google Scholar
  35. World Bank (2005) Evaluation of water sector in the GCC countries. Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations, p 113 (in Arabic)Google Scholar
  36. Younos T (2005) Environmental issues of desalination. J Contemp Water Res Educ 132:11–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdulrahman S. Alsharhan
    • 1
  • Zeinelabidin E. Rizk
    • 2
  1. 1.Middle East Geological and Environmental EstablishmentDubaiUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.University of Science and Technology of FujairahFujairahUnited Arab Emirates

Personalised recommendations