Water Q&A: Is salt water useful?

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Find out how salt water can be used, such as energy production and desalination.

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Is salt water useful?

Water Questions and Answers

In today's world we are all more aware of the need to conserve freshwater. With the ever-growing demand for water by growing populations worldwide, it makes sense to try to find more uses for the abundant saline water (salt water) supplies that exist, mainly in the oceans. You may not be able to use saline water to water you garden full of delicious rutabagas, broccoli, and spinach, but saline water does have some valuable uses. As these pie charts of the Nation's water use show, about 13 percent of all water used in the United States in 2015 was saline. Almost all saline withdrawals, over 95 percent, was used by the thermoelectric-power industry to cool electricity-generating equipment. About five percent of the Nation's saline water was used for mining and industrial purposes.

Perhaps one of the most important uses of saline water, and something that will become more important in the future, is that it provides a ample supply of water that can be desalinated and turned into fresh water. The processes to desalinate water is costly, though, so as costs come down it will be used more and more.