References (41)



Desalination in Northeastern U.S.: Lessons from Four Case Studies

Sridhar Vedachalam

Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute

Susan J. Riha

Cornell University

March 7, 2012

Desalination, 297:104-110, 2012

While much of the desalination activity in the U.S is concentrated in southern and western states, the last decade has seen an unlikely location emerge for desalination – the Northeast. With precipitation often exceeding evapotranspiration, the Northeast generally maintains abundant surface and ground water resources that are readily available for human and ecological use. However, shortfalls in water supplies are leading some communities in the Northeast to consider desalination as an alternative water source. Presently, three desalination projects are in operation, while a fourth one is planned for construction. We review the conditions which led these locations to implement desalination projects including average and peak water demands, status of traditional water supply sources, topographical challenges and demographic changes. We identify financing, regulatory challenges and public support as factors critical to the initiation and success of desalination projects. Using information from the four projects, we propose a set of questions communities should consider to determine the viability of desalination projects vis-à-vis alternatives such as leak detection and infrastructure upgrades, conservation through water-efficient fixtures, and development of new surface and groundwater sources. An informed decision can help communities guarantee long-term supplies at optimal cost and minimal harm to the environment.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: desalination, Northeast, financing, regulatory challenges, public support

JEL Classification: O22, Q25

Accepted Paper Series

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Date posted: March 7, 2012 ; Last revised: October 5, 2012

Suggested Citation

Vedachalam, Sridhar and Riha, Susan J., Desalination in Northeastern U.S.: Lessons from Four Case Studies (March 7, 2012). Desalination, 297:104-110, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2018024 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2018024

Contact Information

Sridhar Vedachalam (Contact Author)
Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute ( email )
New York State Water Resources Institute
1123 Bradfield Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
Susan J. Riha
Cornell University ( email )
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
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