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Desalination: Status and Federal Issues

In the United States, desalination is increasingly investigated as an option for meeting municipal water demands, particularly for coastal communities that can desalinate seawater or estuarine water, interior communities above brackish groundwater aquifers, and communities with contaminated water supplies. Adoption of desalination, however, remains constrained by financial, environmental, regulatory, and other factors. At issue is what role Congress establishes for the federal government in desalination research and development, and in construction and operational costs of desalination demonstration projects and full-scale facilities.

Desalination processes generally treat seawater or brackish water to produce a stream of freshwater, and a separate, saltier stream of water that has to be disposed (often called waste concentrate).

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