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Solent: Water Scarcity, Desalination and the Environment

24 February 2016
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Event type:
Lecture, Evening meeting
Organised by:
Solent Regional Group
University of Portsmouth
Event status:

Water scarcity is fast becoming a major global issue, not just in the water-scarce mid-latitude desert regions, but also in fast developing areas like India & China and the tourist regions of Mediterranean & Caribbean –Americas, but also in Australia, Turkey, central Asia, Korea- and now even in England.

Population growth, industrial growth, agricultural/irrigation expansion, water security, tourist demands and climate change all have a part to play in this situation.

Desalination is currently seen as the principal solution to this resource problems as it manufactures ‘new’, freshwater from saline waters, using either heat or electrical energy to separate the salts from water.  It has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with more than 100 countries now owning desalination plants.  But, is it ‘Sustainable’ development, and what are the environmental issues associated with desalination technologies?

Groundwater has an unexpectedly important role to play in both desalination of brackish groundwaters, pressure-head control for saline intrusion/upconing prevention, resource substitution for preserving rural agriculture, and as large, disseminated, storage potential for both desalinated & recycled waters, and TSE.

This presentation will explain the background to the massive emergence of desalination in the 1990’s, outline the various desalting technologies used, and comment upon their sustainability (energy and carbon footprints), and environmental impacts.  The groundwater connection, plus other minor & emerging technologies and industrial uses of desalination for both commercial products and for wastewater/contamination clean-up, will also be reviewed.


Dr Nick Walton (University of Portsmouth)
Nick Walton is a Hydrogeochemist with more than 30 years experience in global water resources, who worked for most of the 1980’s in many of the emerging Gulf Arab States on a wide variety of water resource and contamination issues – including commissioning work at two of the largest desalination plants in the world.


6pm for tea, 6.30pm for talk start


University of Portsmouth, Burnaby Building, Room BB 4.05

Convenor Contact

Nigel Hoad

Solent Regional Group

Tel: 0118 953 5188