Desalination Hopscotch: Bringing Clean Water to an Aquifer Near You by Manaugh&Majdi
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2016 Climate CoLab Judges
Interesting approach with innovative thinking. Issues include: - still have to build smaller pipelines to get from aquifer to aquifer - drawing from 1 side of aquifer and injecting in the other may not practically balance in the aquifer, it may take a long time for the new water to effectively level the aquifer due to hydraulic conductivity constraints - yes new desal tech is improving daily, but I don't think that is an issue, with the exception of brine management in coastal communities, which is outside the scope of this project - I'm not sure purported cost savings is sufficient to change from a single pipeline to multiple short pipelines and well system. While people are NIMBYs with pipelines in general, the consequence of a water pipeline failure is much lower than an oil or gas pipeline.
This is a novel idea. The authors envision linking groundwater aquifers through a series of pumps to move water from one to another. The initial 'source aquifer' near the coast is then artificially recharged from desalinated seawater, and the linked aquifers are then recharged in turn through pumps. The authors have not indicated the scale of the proposed operation in the gulf of California, but an environmental impact assessment for the gulf itself would be vital. Large scale freshwater extraction through desalinization will increase salinity in the gulf and affect ecosystems in and livelihoods dependent on the gulf. The beneficiaries are all in Texas, so it is unclear why the local residents in California would wish to bear such cost externalities. It is not clear to me how this aquifer linking scheme with various pumping stations would be more efficient or cheaper than simply laying a pipe from the desalinization plant to Texas (the authors try to argue this but I was not convinced). I found this an interesting idea, but one that I think is probably not workable at scale in the real world.
All the best
2016 Climate CoLab Judges
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