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In California, we love our bottled water. Municipal water services provide plenty of H2O via the tap, but we prefer hydrating from disposable, plastic containers.

However, this could change very soon as water in our drought-stricken state becomes even more expensive.

The drought has already wreaked havoc on crops, wildfires, and hydroelectric energy. But the bottled water industry has remained largely immune.

If the drought doesn’t cease, however, even bottled water will become too costly. And we may be forced to look at other options – namely – desalinization.

Fortunately, finding water sources to desalinate isn’t a problem in a place like California. We’ve got access to one of the largest supplies on the planet, courtesy of the Pacific Ocean.

And believe it or not, large-scale desalination is already taking place.

In late 2014, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California began desalinating water after paying rice farmers in Sacramento Valley an average of $700 per acre-foot of water. In California at least, H2O is a more profitable “cash crop” than traditional agricultural products.

According to Michael Ross of the California Department of Water Resources,

The cost of desalination will come down… The price of other water is coming up, as we can see from the Met’s purchase. Right now I have a basketful of proposed processes on my desk.

Later this year, a new $1 billion water desalinization facility will open up in Carlsbad and supply roughly 7% of San Diego County’s supply. The treatment center will use reverse osmosis to remove salt from water. But at a cost of $2,200 per acre foot, this is still on the expensive side.

There do exist more affordable solutions that use phosphates, hydroxides, and carbonates. But they’re not necessarily “clean.”

So is there a better solution?

California Solar Power to the Rescue

Instead of using potentially toxic chemicals or expensive reverse osmosis, some experts are pushing for solar-powered water desalinization.

One promising technology is known as “zero discharge.” It uses solar energy to evaporate and collect water with a nearly 100% recovery rate. A pilot project is being tested in the Panoche Water and Drainage District of Central California.

If successful, this solar-powered desalinization process could revolutionize the world:

  • It’s totally clean since there are no chemicals used. Just sunshine and water.
  • It’s completely affordable since no fossil fuels are used. Just sunshine.

So in addition to powering our cities and charging our commutes, we might soon harness the sun’s awesome energy to create gallons and gallons of clean, drinkable water.

We’ve said before, and we’ll say it again. California solar is the gift that keeps on giving.

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