Philippine Environmental Solutions: Desalination Plant Very Much Needed
On its basic definition, a desalination plant turns sea salt water into fresh water. Now, you take a look at the 7,200 islands of the Philippines, and you will very easily realize that the Philippines is surrounded by sea water, flanked in all angles by the wonderful Pacific Ocean.
It is obvious that fresh water is scarce in many places in the Philippines. In Manila alone, many residents are relying on water delivery trucks to provide fresh water into water storage tanks for their homes. Even potable drinking water is relied on delivery from businesses that focus their attention to water filtration.
In other areas, the rivers have been very much polluted by garbage and industrial sewage, and it looks like that water pollution won’t let up on the Philippine shores, which boasts of a very diverse aquatic eco-system with its many beaches and reefs.
In some parts of the Philippines, water is such a sought-after commodity that tribal wars have escalated due to disputes over land boundaries and water sources.
The bottom line – the Philippines needs an abundant fresh water supply soon. Because as it stands, fresh water is becoming a hard commodity to come by, and the fresh water sources of our country are not enough to keep up with the day-to-day demands for fresh water among the country’s residents.
The solution – to invest on the construction of a desalination plant that can convert sea water to fresh water, and eventually channel that fresh water.
Of course, the capital cost for such an ambitious project is huge. Based on research of the Melbourne desalination plant being prepared in Australia, the estimated cost of the project is said to reach AUD$3.1 Billion. That’s roughly Php100 Billion! The annual operating costs, after factoring the possible profits, will reach a total annual cost of around AUD$600 million.
The Melbourne Desalination Plant is expected to provide 150 gigalitres of water each year using the reverse osmosis method of desalination. The Melbourne Desalination plant is expecting its construction to commence in mid-2009 and should be ready for operation by the year 2011. The amount of fresh water that the Melbourne Desalination Plant will be enough to supply 33% of Melbourne City’s annual water needs.
The Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant, which is expected to be up and running this 2008, cost around US$150 Million to build, and churns up 95,000 cubic meters of water per day, which can provide water to a population of approximately 2 million people on a daily basis. The Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant is actually six years behind its original schedule of opening which involved a lot of bankruptcy among the companies who were involved in the ownership and control over the construction and development. However, once up and running, the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant looks to be the largest seawater desalination facility in the United States. And yet, it can accommodate at most a population of 2 million.
How big and how efficient will the desalination plant of the Philippines be remains a mystery. After all, plans and proposals have yet to be drawn up to look into the feasibility of constructing a desalination plant for the Philippines. The question remains though – are there plans being brought up to even consider the investing and construction of a desalination plant in the Philippines?
If there are no plans or proposals yet, then the Philippines better get their act together and come up with one soon. Fresh water sources in the Philippines are becoming depleted, and we cannot rest on our laurels and watch our fresh water eventually run out. The Philippines has to make an attempt at looking to the future, and should look into the option of converting all that salt water that surrounds our country and turning it into fresh water. Eventually, it will be our last resort for water when the fresh water in our 7,200 islands dry up.
Anyway, the National Water Resources Board of the Philippines is responsible for the management of the country’s water resource for present and future generations. As of now, they have their hands tied in trying to identify the many problems within the hundreds of water districts scattered all over the nation. The research alone is already a huge task to undertake, and certainly they might not be as well-funded or supported by the government, especially since it runs independent from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and from the government.
The work that the NWRB does is very, very urgent, and I am under the impression that maybe they are two steps behind in realizing their goals in order to improve the water situation in the Philippines. Well, at least, there’s an initiative on the part of the NWRB to make steps to manage the country’s water resources. At least.
In the meantime, the other citizens who don’t know any better continue to waste away our precious water resource with continuous wasting, polluting and disregard of its value.
While the entire world is looking for oil and going to war for fossil fuels, eventually the destruction of humanity and the beginning of super anarchy will be if we don’t have enough fresh water. We can adapt our lives if we run out of gas, and we’ll seek other alternative sources for energy, but if we run out of water, expect all hell to let loose.
Water is life. Save water! Save life!