UK Desalination Plans Attacked
The UK government has approved a new scheme for desalination of water from the Thames, for use in London. The £200 million plant will be built in Beckton, east London. It's not a popular plan, though, among environmental campaigners. We've written before about how energy-intensive desalination is and how it can contribute to climate change, and recent plans for a similar plant in Australia came under attack for the same reason.
However, some concessions have been made. The planning authority only approved the scheme if renewable energy sources were used to power the plant, and if the plant only operates during periods of drought. A more cynical reporter could mention that it is still using power that could be used elsewhere, and that 'periods of drought' cover much of the year currently anyway. Once built, these rules could be stretched. It is already stated by it's operators that they expect it to run for 40% of the year. While running it will be able to generate 140m liters of drinking water a day - enough for nearly 1 million people, or one eighth of London.
Rob Oates of the WWF, said, "It is nonsense to imagine that London, or indeed anywhere in the UK, needs a desalination plant to supply its freshwater needs. This is the UK, not Yemen. What we really need to do is reduce leakage, which still stands at 25%, introduce universal water metering to reduce demand, end over-abstraction from the UK's rivers and introduce more water-saving devices in homes and businesses. At the moment, half of the drinking water supplied to homes is used for flushing toilets and washing dirty clothes, which is madness."::Guardian