Impact of socio-economic growth on desalination in the US

J Environ Manage. 2016 Feb 1;167:15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.11.013. Epub 2015 Nov 21.


In 2013, around 1336 desalination plants in the United States (US) provided purified water mainly to municipalities, the industry sector and for power generation. In 2013 alone, ∼200 million m(3) of water were desalinated; the amount that could satisfy annual municipal water consumption of more than 1.5 million people in the US. Desalination has proven to be a reliable water supply source in many countries around the world, with the total global desalination capacity of ∼60 million m(3)/day in 2013. Desalination has been used to mitigate water scarcity and lessen the pressure on water resources. Currently, data and information about desalination are still limited, while extensive socio-economic analyses are missing. This paper presents an econometric model to fill this gap. It evaluates the impact of selected socio-economic variables on desalination development in the US in the time span 1970-2013. The results show that the GDP and population growth have significantly impacted the desalination sector over the analyzed time period. The insights into the economics of desalination provided with this paper can be used to further evaluate cost-effectiveness of desalination both in the US and in other countries around the world.

Keywords: Desalination; Econometrics; Economic growth; Macro-economic analysis; Time series analysis; US; Water management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Economic Development
  • Gross Domestic Product / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Industry / economics
  • Models, Econometric*
  • Population Growth
  • United States
  • Water Purification / methods*
  • Water Purification / statistics & numerical data
  • Water Supply / economics