People, Environment

Water Desalination Plants Need DOE Approval

Water Desalination Plants Need DOE ApprovalWater Desalination Plants Need DOE Approval

Desalinating water requires the approval of the Department of Environment due to its environmental impact.

Hamid Jalalvandi, the head of Environmental Assessment office at DOE, said desalination plants are subject to scrutiny and must pass assessments before they can receive a permit to operate, Mehr News Agency reported.

Water desalination is carried out either as an independent program or as part of a water transfer project that requires an environmental assessment permit.

Environmentalists are inherently opposed to projects that require water to be desalinated, as the process produces large quantities of brine, which is normally diluted before it is returned to the water body from where it was retrieved.

The problem is that brine is denser than seawater and therefore sinks to the ocean bottom and can damage the ecosystem. Careful reintroduction can minimize the impact, but cannot entirely eliminate it.

Officials, including Parvin Farshchi, deputy for marine environment at DOE, attribute the rising salinity of the Persian Gulf in the past two decades to human activities and desalination plants in regional countries.

Discussions about the impact of desalination plants along the Persian Gulf coastlines have become more frequent ever since Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian announced plans to transfer water from the Persian Gulf to drought-hit provinces in southern and central Iran in March.

Chitchian said 50 desalination plants had been constructed along the shores of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea to help supply drinking water to 17 provinces.