For several years, Southern European countries have faced problems of water shortage and insecurity. These problems are exacerbated by increased population growth in these countries, inefficient use of water, and climate change(Harvey &Mercusot, 2007). The need to address these problems has seen most of these countries resort to the desalination of seawater. Of course, desalination of seawater presents numerous threats and disadvantages to Southern European countries that have implemented the same. However, the advantages of the desalination process and facilities to these countries cannot be ignored.
Drinkable freshwater from desalination
Southern European countries such as Spain are marked by scarce water resources(Harvey &Mercusot, 2007). In the whole of Europe, countries found in the southern part are considered to have low water availability. Research indicates that freshwater reserves in southern Europe are declining at a fast pace, and thus have jeopardized the availability of drinkable freshwater. However, the introduction and embrace of desalination technology and facilities have helped address the freshwater shortage problem in the region, and this is one of the bright sides of desalination despite the adverse impacts accompanying the same. In Spain, for instance, desalinated water is increasingly being supplied and used as a source of drinkable freshwater. This has helped reduce pressure on scarce or few available freshwater resources supplying drinkable freshwater(Hamoda, 2004). The use of desalinated water in Spain from 1980 to 2006 is shown in the chart below.
Desalinated water for agriculture demands
As already mentioned, desalinated water is increasingly being recognized as a means of supplying water in southern European countries. In these countries, discharging wastewater in waterways has adverse environmental impacts. This situation has been reversed by the embrace of the desalination process that has since ensured the provision of additional water that can be used for agricultural demands such as irrigation. Spain remains the leading country in Southern Europe that uses desalinated water for irrigation purposes. Despite the costs accompanying desalination process, the relevant authorities in the mentioned countries provide desalinated water for irrigation almost free of charge. According to research, the use of desalinate water for irrigation and other agriculture demands has far outweighed costs. The benefits accompanying the use of desalinated water for irrigation purposes is highlighted by the reduction in the cost of pumping and quantity of freshwater saved in the process(Hamoda, 2004). In Spain, the benefits of using desalinated water for irrigation and other agricultural demands have outweighed costs by approximately 9.5 million Euros annually.
Daily life usage of desalinated water
Other than usage for drinking and agricultural purposes, Southern European countries have benefited greatly by using desalinated water for daily life usage and industrial purposes. Freshwater obtained from desalinated water is used in daily life activities such as bathing, cooking, and others, and this has seen an improvement in human health and sanitation in Southern European countries. Also, increased supply of desalinated water has triggered industrial development and growth in Southern European countries. Thus, there has been a significant increase in the number of jobs in industrial and other productive sectors, most of these being attributed to availability, supply, and distribution of desalinated water(Barak, 2012). The industrial growth in turn contributes to GDP of most Southern European countries. Moreover, the use of freshwater obtained from desalinated water sources in daily life increased productivity of the labor force, a perspective attributed to the improved access to water and sanitation in most Southern European countries since the embrace of desalination.
Barak, A. (2012). Economic Aspects of Water Desalination. Advances in Water Desalination, 197-308. doi:10.1002/9781118347737.ch3
Hamoda, M. (2004). Water strategies and potential of water reuse in the south Mediterranean countries. Desalination, 165, 31-41. doi:10.1016/s0011-9164(04)00209-7
Harvey, B., &Mercusot, M. (2007). Cooperation between Mediterranean countries of Europe and the southern rim of the Mediterranean. Desalination, 203(1-3), 20-26. doi:10.1016/j.desal.2006.02.016