Water - State of the Science

Water Science - It seemed like a good idea at the time The stuff you heard was a good idea that isn't (desalination n stuff)

The bottom-line is that water is a nonrenewable resource that we need to live more than a few days. Our interaction with water systems are most tragically manifest in our practice of flushing our wastes down the toilet with clean drinking water. Particularly in water rich countries like the United States and Canada, we do not value our water correctly but rather contaminate it, sometimes beyond 'repair'. 

Also typical of modern day human interaction with our environment, we demonstrate a preference for large, expensive infrastructure projects to perform water treatment and water purification services. This includes desalination plants, which are, in most cases not yet cost effective. Implementation of such human designed solutions is not always the most efficient approach, as New York State is well aware. As we have come to dicover elsewhere in sustainable business pursuits, nature often provides elegant, efficient solutions to many of the challenges we face. For water filtration, this takes the form of wetlands and other healthy ecosystems, which have astonishing capacities to regenerate healthy water, filtered of contaminants and other undesirables. Of course, once ecosystems are altered / damaged beyond a certain point, there is sometimes no return to the original level of natural capacity. 

Besides desalination (or "de-sal"), one other practice that has seen some action has been "big straw": moving water from one place to another at significant volumes. So also, the concept of towing icebergs has enjoyed some noteriety but is at this time a wildly impractical solution, not only cost-ineffective, but otherwise ill-considered. While it may occur as a great way to mitigate rising ocean levels and at the same time address immediate freshwater needs, the environmental consequences alone take it off the table as a practical solution.