Desalination Planning


Desalination is the process of separating salts from seawater and brackish water, thereby allowing the water to serve many useful purposes. Desalination technology has advanced to the point where desalination has become a relied-upon water source for many regions of the world, from the Middle East to the vacation islands of the Spanish Mediterranean.

Desalination is both a promising and a challenging technology. Interest and actual use is growing in the United States in both inland and coastal areas. California citizens were interested enough in desalination to provide research funding through Proposition 50. Federal, state, and regional water agencies are also funding desalination research.

Here at the Center for Integrated Water Research, we are studying desalination from economic, policy, and communications perspectives. Two of our projects focused on desalination planning in Monterey County, and a third project, described here, developed guidance materials for regions throughout California considering desalination.

This project was funded by Proposition 50 funds and overseen by the State Department of Water Resources.

The Bibliography of Desalination and Water Reuse

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). 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Impact Reports and Environmental Impact Statements), personal communications, audiovisual material, hearings, and unpublished work.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.

City of Long Beach Desalination Research Program Archives

As part of our project, the Water Department of Long Beach, California, partnered with us to make their extensive research archives available to the entire state. Here is a library of research findings encompassing their extensive desalination research program.

Proposition 50 Planning Issues Matrix

This matrix enables individuals, community groups, and agency planners to study proposals to implement desalination projects. It is the major product of our Proposition 50 funded project Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Desalination in California.

Final Report

This Report describes the research project and summarizes our findings and recommendations with respect to implementing desalination projects in California.

Research Needs Report on Desalination

This report focuses on how the academic field of ecological economics can inform future productive research related to desalination so that society can get the most benefit from desalination technologies at the least environmental and other costs. Professor Haddad would appreciate any comments you have on this draft report. His email is