Too much brine? Study highlights growing toxic brine problem

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, file). FILE - The Sept. 4, 2015 file photo shows the Carlsbad, Calif. desalination plant which borders Interstate 5 on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other in Carlsbad, Calif. UN Warns of Rising Levels of Toxic Brine as ... (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, file). FILE - The Sept. 4, 2015 file photo shows the Carlsbad, Calif. desalination plant which borders Interstate 5 on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other in Carlsbad, Calif. UN Warns of Rising Levels of Toxic Brine as ...

BERLIN (AP) - The world's thirst for fresh water is causing a salty problem.

Desalination plants around the world are producing enough brine waste to swamp an area the size of Florida with a foot of salty water every year, according to a U.N.-backed report released Monday.

The study by researchers from Canada, the Netherlands and South Korea warned that much of the brine is being dumped untreated into the sea, and some is laden with toxic chemicals, causing harm to sea life.

The authors called for better brine management, particularly in countries that rely heavily on desalination for their water needs, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.

"We know that water scarcity is increasing in many regions across the world due to increased water demands, which are associated with population increase and economic growth," said one of the authors, Manzoor Qadir, assistant director of the United Nations University's Canada-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

At the same, climate change is making the availability of freshwater less predictable, such as by changing the amount of runoff snow in some regions, he said.

The authors examined 16,000 desalination plants worldwide and found they produce 142 million cubic meters (5,014 million cubic feet) of brine each day, or 51.8 billion cubic meters a year. That's about half more than previous studies had estimated, said Qadir.

The researchers called for better brine management, noting that studies have shown it can be used in aquacultures to boost yields of salt-tolerant species of fish, and the metals and salts contained in it - such as magnesium and lithium - could be mined.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."