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Origins and Purpose of the Bibliography

During this research project, the members of the project team confronted a number of issues regarding the availability and quantity of information about desalination and the context for its use within water supply portfolio planning. The first issue arose from the difficulty in locating practitioner literature versus academic literature. For some subjects, information could easily be found from academic and/or peer-reviewed journals online. However, practitioner literature was more difficult to uncover. Many experts in the field of desalination and water reuse work in water agencies or the consulting firms engaged by these agencies, and they are often tasked with describing the methods and results of pilot projects in both official and unofficial documents. Such documents may or may not be easily accessible in water agency or consulting agency offices, through libraries, or on the World Wide Web. The longevity of service in the fields of water reuse and desalination allowed some authors on the project to locate useful material based on personal acquaintance with other practitioners. The difficulty in locating certain types of information about desalination and water reuse prompted a large survey of databases to recover less well-known articles in industry circles in the United States. We set out to make these sources of data on desalination more readily available.

The second issue surfaced when researchers wanted to share the results of independently performed reviews focusing on different themes such as energy, engineering, environmental impacts, institutions, etc. Not only was it necessary to gather all such references in one place, but it was also important to use common identifying keywords to categorize each reference, particularly because these sources came from varying disciplines. We needed to develop a systematic approach to allow references to be sorted in order of relevance for the particular theme of interest at any given time. The intent behind building the Bibliography of Desalination and Water Reuse (also “Bibliography”) was to provide a searchable database of scientific and practitioner literature pertaining to the reuse, recycling, reclamation, and desalination of impaired water sources for beneficial use. The Bibliography contains information about scientific and practitioner experience with water resources development, environmental impacts of water reuse and desalination, and social scientific study (including policy, engineering, and socioeconomic analysis). While this literature database includes references on water reclamation and reuse, we focus here on the desalination portion of the database.

The references to literature included in this database were collected by Linda Vida, chief librarian of the Water Resources Center Archives at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as by members of this Proposition 50 desalination planning project team and their colleagues. In late 2005, Professor Haddad commissioned a literature review for his research project funded by the WateReuse Foundation on the mental models that surround the psychology of water. The parameters for the review were provided to Linda Vida at the Water Resources Center Archives, and the search covered the disciplines of engineering, biology, health, psychology, law, and business. The Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management (ESPM) databases were also searched, using the following terminology, with each term combined with drinking water and an attitudinal term such as “acceptance”. The search was limited to 1960 – present. The terms searched were: desalination, fluoridation, grey (or “gray”) water, nonpotable reuse, potable reuse, reclaimed wastewater, reclaimed water, renovated wastewater, saline water conversion, treated wastewater, wastewater reclamation, wastewater reuse, water recycling, and water reuse.

Contents of the Database

The entries in the master database include scholarly journal articles, books and book sections, magazine and newspaper articles, conference proceedings and papers, Master’s and Ph.D. theses, agency and government reports (including project Environmental Impact Reports and Environmental Impact Statements), personal communications, audiovisual material, hearings, and unpublished work. The large majority of references are scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, although we thought it important to include work from a wide variety of practitioners. The database currently lacks certain citations that could be useful to the desalination and water reuse community. For example, Environmental Impact Reports and proponent’s Environmental Impact Statements may be published on a website or located on a shelf in a library. Once located, citations for such documents can be included in the Bibliography, including a URL for the website or information about the location of the paper copy. This information might be used by those interested in understanding a certain water supply project in greater depth.

The master database, completed in mid-2007, contained 1,293 references, 648 of which are related to brackish water or seawater desalination. Of these references, the most common topics related to desalination are energy, technology, and reverse osmosis (Table 3). The least common topics are entrainment/impingement and climate change. This trend was reflected in a Web of Science literature search using the same search terms (Table 3). This suggests that while some issues related to desalination are well-understood, other issues, particularly those related to environmental impacts and public health, are less well-studied.

Search Terms Web of Science Articles Literature Database Articles
desalination + discharge 87 100
desalination + entrainment 11 3
desalination + impingement 11 3
desalination + energy 828 181
desalination + policy 35 54
desalination + environmental impacts 95 121
desalination + economics 120 94
desalination + technology 397 194
desalination + reverse osmosis 945 225
desalination + public health 8 44
desalination + climate change 11 10

Table 1. Results of searches for articles on topics related to desalination from Web of Science and from the Bibliography of Desalination and Water Reuse.

We hope that this Bibliography will provide resources for stakeholders on all sides of the desalination debate to make informed, meaningful decisions about the role of desalination in their communities.

Authors: Holly Alpert and Catherine Borrowman, December 2007