How Arizona needs to respond to its water shortage

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The world is in a water shortage, and Arizona is no exception. Agriculture is one of the largest expenditures of water, having once consumed 90% of all of Arizona’s total available water supply. Now, that number is down to 74%. Earlier we spoke with Seth Siegel, a world-renowned expert on water scarcity and author of “Let There be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World” for more on water conservation, and his take on Gov. Ducey’s desalination plan.

Define desalination.

Siegel: “Desalination is taking salty water and desalting it. The process can be one of three of four different natured technologies. the best of them is where you put it through… a cheesecloth and your pushing the water through it and you are pushing the water through it. The pure water comes out the other side. The brine, the salty mineral stuff, remains on the other side.”

He says that desalinating water requires an even greater level of purification than even waste water, because salt is such a tiny molecular element.

He says “it can be” very expensive, particularly when talking about where in the world you are talking about. He wrote a book on Israel, even though he is American, because it is the worlds “leading place for water scarce locations.”

If the facility is built in a more expensive way, that would make your water more expensive.

He says desalinization makes sense for Arizona, but not to think of it as the “only solution.” Desalination takes a long time to build and reap the benefits.

It costs a lot of money to get started, takes a lot of time, and uses a lot of energy. But it produces very high quality water.

The brine that is pushed back into the water and the energy uses should not be a big concern, says Siegel. Dams do more harm an add more salt, and desalination adds just a “teeny” amount of salt back to the ocean.

“Measurement wise it does not significantly change. If there are environmental concerns it should not be ignored,” Siegel says.


Seth Siegel, Senior Water Policy Fellow, Author

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