Water Desalination: Environmental Impacts and Brine Management
- 64 Downloads
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Dickie P (2007) Desalination: Option or destruction for a thirsty world? Report prepared for WWF’s Global Freshwater Program, p 53Google Scholar
- 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
- 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
- FEWA (Federal Electricity and Water Authority) (2009) FEWA annual statistical report. Ajman, UAEGoogle Scholar
- Hassan MH (1998) Major distribution in Khobar aquifer. Eastern Saudi Arabia: Arab. J Sci Eng 23(1C):67–88Google Scholar
- Ibrahim AA, Jibril BY (2005) Production of chemicals from desalination blow down. Alex Eng J 44(5):817–820Google Scholar
- 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
- Käufler J (2007) Experience in Morocco and Abu Dhabi (UAE). SYNLIF Systems GmbH, Berlin, Germany, p 31Google Scholar
- 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
- MOEW (Ministry of Environment and Water) (2010) Water Conservation Strategy. Ministry of Environment and Water, p 212Google Scholar
- MOEW (2015) State of the environment Report—United Arab Emirates. Ministry of Environment and Water, p 36Google Scholar
- Patterson RJ, Kinsman DJJ (1981) Hydrologic of framework of a sabkha along Arabian gulf. AAPG Bull 65:1457Google Scholar
- 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
- Rizk ZS, Alsharhan AS (2008) Water resources in the United Arab Emirates. Ithraa Publishing and Distribution, Amman, p 624. (in Arabic)Google Scholar
- Trieb F (2007) Concentrating solar power for seawater desalination. MENAREC 4, Damascus, Syria, p 12Google Scholar
- WHO (World Health Organization) (1984) WHO guidelines for drinking water quality, recommendations, Geneva, Switzerland, vol 1. p 130Google Scholar
- 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