Water supply challenges associated with long-term droughts and population pressures are not unique to California. Many other coastal states, such as Florida, Texas, Hawaii, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Louisiana face unprecedented drought and shortages of traditional water resources such as lakes, fresh water aquifers, and rivers.
Over the past several years, most of these states have started to explore or institute comprehensive programs for the development of large-scale sea-water and brackish water desalination plants.
Across the United States, there are about 230 plants that can desalinate 1500 mgd. Most of the large, municipal desalination plants in operation are in Florida and they use deep brackish water aquifers for water supply.
According to a 2004 report by private water industry newsletter Global Water Intelligence, an additional 1000 mgd of desalination plants will be built by 2015. About half (400 to 500 mgd) of this new capacity will be seawater and brackish water plants located in California, with Texas, Florida, and Hawaii following closely.
Getting a jump-start on this, the largest inland desalination plant just opened in El Paso, Texas. The $87 million facility produces 27.5 mgd, drawing brackish groundwater from the Hueco Bolson Aquifer. The plant increases El Paso's drinking water production by 25%, and will supply the area with water for about 50 years. The desalination plant is a joint project of El Paso Water Utilities and the U.S. Army/Fort Bliss.
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