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Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap Appendixes
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Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap Appendix A Letter Report dated June 12, 2003 to John W. Keys, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation10 10 Attachments A and B of the June 12, 2003 letter report are not included in Appendix A because the statement of task can be found in the Executive Summary and the biographical information for the committee members is available in Appendix C.
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Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine Water Science and Technology Board 500 Fifth Street NW Washington DC 20001 Phone: 202 334 3422 Fax: 202 334 1941 www.nationalacademies.org/wstb June 12, 2003 The Honorable John W. Keys. III Commissioner Bureau of Reclamation U.S. Department of the Interior 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington. D.C. 20240 Dear Mr. Keys: The National Research Council (NRC) is pleased to provide this “letter report” on the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap1 (Roadmap) developed by the Bureau of Reclamation with support from the Sandia National Laboratories as suggested by Congress in the 2002 Energy and Water Development Appropriation Bill. Your letter dated October 29, 2002 to the Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) asked for a critical evaluation of the desalination Roadmap, which is intended to serve as a guide for federal agencies and other public and private organizations in their desalination research and technology investment decisions.2 In response, the NRC’s WSTB created the Committee to Review the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap to conduct the review. Committee members and NRC staff are listed in Attachment A. The committee’s Statement of Task is provided in Attachment B. The results of the NRC review are intended to aid your ongoing efforts to develop a national, broadly supported plan for desalination research investments. This letter report, as explicitly requested by the Bureau of Reclamation, provides an initial assessment of whether the Roadmap presents “an appropriate and effective course to help address future freshwater needs in the United States” (addressing task #1 of the Statement of Task; see Attachment B). Our assessment is focused on the Desalination and Water Purification 1 For the purpose of this report, the term “Roadmap” is used to describe the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap, which was also called the Desalination Technology Progress Plan and the Desalination Research Roadmap in previous versions of the document and related correspondence. 2 According to the Roadmap report, the Roadmap is a “critical technology roadmap” that is intended to serve as a high-level strategic pathway for future desalination and water purification research As such, the Roadmap calls anention to future needs for development in technology, provides a structure for organizing technology forecasts and programs, and attempts to improve the communication between the research and development community and end users.
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Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap Technology Roadmap3 that was published in January 2003 and augmented by presentations to the committee at its first meeting on May 12-13, 2003.4 The committee has yet to complete its analysis based on the remaining review questions listed in the Statement of Task (#2-6, Attachment B), but these will be addressed in a final report, planned to be released in the fall of 2003. Initial Assessment Based on a careful review and discussion of the Roadmap report and related presentations and the initial deliberations of the committee at its first meeting, we conclude that a national research plan for desalination and water purification technology is important and necessary to help meet the nation’s future water needs.5,6 The potential for desalination technologies to become major components of future water supply management throughout the United States justifies a careful research and development strategy to nurture novel ideas and facilitate technological advancements. We strongly recommend the continuation of these activities and commend the Bureau of Reclamation and Sandia National Laboratories for providing the leadership in this important national initiative. Nevertheless, we present some recommendations that we hope will strengthen the Roadmap document and better reflect the underlying “roadmapping process” that the report attempts to summarize. For example, based on the contents of the published Roadmap, we suggest that a more accurate title for the effort would have been the “Desalination and Membrane-Based Water Purification Technology Research Roadmap.” The committee believes that emphasis of this effort should be on research to support advances in technology; therefore, the title of the initiative should again include research (see also Footnote 1). Furthermore, the term “water purification” includes a wide range of water treatment technologies and processes that are more often related to conventional water treatment plants than to desalination or desalination pre- and post-treatment. These technologies, such as granular media filtration and chlorination, were never the focus of the research planning effort. With these important 3 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Sandia National Laboratories. 2003. Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap: A Report of the Executive Committee. Desalination & Water Purification Research & Development Report #95. Bureau of Reclamation, Water Treatment and Engineering Group, Denver, CO. The bureau of Reclamation and Sandia National Laboratories formed an Executive Committee and a Working Group (collectively known as the Roadmapping Team) comprised of representatives from government, industry, academia, and private and non-profit sectors, including water utilities, to help develop a desalination technology progress plan. This large number of researchers and managers participated in the roadmapping activity through a series of collaborative workshops organized and conducted by Sandia National Laboratories during 2002 to help identify and rank future desalination and water purification research goals and objectives. The Roadmap report is a product of the Executive Committee. 4 The committee’s first meeting included presentations from the Bureau of Reclamation (the study sponsors), Sandia National Laboratories, and other members of the Roadmapping Team on May 12, 2003 and during a stakeholder workshop held on May 13, 2003. These presentations were intended to brief the committee on the Roadmap’s development, expected uses, and follow-up activities; help frame the issues; and inform the committee of activities of other federal, state, and local entities engaged in desalination and water purification research and development. 5 A previous NRC report, Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the Twenty-First Century, published in 2001, notes that the development and implementation of increasingly cost-competitive desalination technologies deserves increased consideration on the nation’s water resources research agenda. 6 “Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West,” a recently launched initiative by the U.S. Department of the Interior, includes among its six guiding principles, “Improve water treatment technology, such as desalination, to help increase water supply” to address future water needs (see http://www.doi.gov/water2025/).
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Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap clarifications, the committee concludes that this Roadmap and its underlying process appear to present an appropriate framework for advancing research in several areas of desalination and water purification technology to help address future water needs in all regions of the United States. The effectiveness of the Roadmap will ultimately depend on its future implementation, and, as described below, plans for implementing the Roadmap are not yet resolved. This letter report details several other recommended changes to improve the effectiveness of the Roadmap. One primary concern was the overarching vision for the effort, which appears to stray into formulation of national water policy rather than remaining focused on a research plan to address desalination and water purification technologies and associated economic and public health issues related to future national water supply needs. The Roadmap would also be improved with explanations of targets for critical research objectives, a more comprehensive and detailed presentation of desalination technology needs, and a process for research prioritization, selection, and funding. These concerns are described below, and the committee’s final report may consider these issues in greater depth. Vision As noted previously, the present vision statement, while intended to provide the motivation for the overall Roadmap, strays into the realm of national water policy in a manner that is inconsistent with the overall tone and direction of the remainder of the report. For example, the vision statement associated with “keep water affordable” indicates that future water supplies should strive to keep water prices “at rates comparable to that of today” (as actually stated in the report). Instead, the vision statement should remain focused on the roadmapping of research and technology efforts that could contribute to future water supply needs and thereby more accurately reflect the contents and discussion contained in the body of the report. The committee believes that a more suitable vision statement would confer to the reader that desalination and water purification technologies will provide an important contribution to the development of water supplies for the United States that are safe, sustainable, affordable, and adequate. In addition, the vision statement associated with the bullet “provide safe water” (p. 4) could be improved if revised in a manner that reflects public health concerns related to all applications of desalination and water purification. For example, as impaired waters are increasingly employed in the future—such as municipal and industrial waste water streams containing complex mixtures of chemical and microbiological contaminants—the committee questions whether membrane desalination technologies alone will be appropriate or adequate for producing safe drinking water. Critical Objectives The Roadmap establishes a series of critical objectives for desalination and (largely membrane-based) water purification technology advancements. According to the Roadmap report, critical objectives are quantifications of the United States’ national-scale needs that set metrics (also called technology targets) that must be met by a technology if it is to play a role in meeting the nation’s water needs. However, in order for these targets to be useful, they need to have a logic and origin that are readily understandable. The theoretical basis for the technology targets listed in the Roadmap (e.g., 50 percent or 80 percent cost and power reductions needed by 2020: see Table 1. p. 11) should be clarified and referenced to the current state-of-the-art for
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Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap each of these targets. For example, the committee found the example of the cost structure for reverse-osmosis desalination of seawatcr (Figure B1, p. 51) to be very informative in explaining the cost reduction potential of various technological improvements. Some of the targets identified do not appear well founded in science and may be unachievable. The provision of a rationale for the targets identified would advance the plausibility of the Roadmap. Desalination and water purification national needs are separated into near-term (by 2008) and mid/long term critical objectives (by 2020) The committee generally supports connecting critical objectives to such (somewhat arbitrary) timeframes. However, we believe that while the 2008 timeframe is reasonable to obtain research results to support desalination research needs, it will not provide enough time to implement these research findings into desalination development efforts that are currently underway. Technologies The committee concludes that the five broad areas of desalination and water purification technologies (i.e.. membrane, alternative, thermal, concentrate management, reuse/recycling) identified in the Roadmap report represent top priority areas for research and development. An issue of concern relevant to all of them, not discussed in the report, is corresponding energy use and air emissions (e.g.. carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides) resulting from these energy intensive technologies. These issues represent critical research areas that could influence the potential and sustained contribution of desalination technologies to meet future water supply needs. The Roadmap could be strengthened as a whole by more thorough descriptions of the technologies and associated research opportunities, along with a list of technical references supporting the technologies identified in the report. In part, the Roadmap may lack adequate depth in some areas due to the notable absence of any U.S. Environmental Protection Agency personnel on the Roadmapping Team, the limited number of desalination industry participants, and the absence of workgroup members with expertise in energy power issues or in thermal desalination technologies. Implementation The Roadmap would be improved by including a general plan of implementation for the research initiative. Based on the presentations and discussions with the Roadmapping Team members at the May 13 workshop, we understand that many of these issues have been discussed, but an implementation strategy for the Roadmap is not settled. The committee recommends that an implementation strategy for the Roadmap should include mechanisms for setting priorities for research and not provide legitimization for unknown technologies without a documented peer-review process. This proposed research initiative should utilize the widest range of scientists and engineers available, and a thorough peer-review/evaluation process should be developed to select and fund research proposals to ensure that the best research minds are engaged in these important issues. Because the ultimate advances in the efficiency and cost effectiveness of desalination will depend on information transfer to the water industry, a framework should be outlined for development of new desalination technologies. The committee further recommends that information should be provided to the general public and decision makers in order to maintain support for the program.
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Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap This letter report reflects the consensus of the NRC committee and has been reviewed in accordance with the procedures of the NRC. The list of reviewers is given in Attachment C. We hope our report is useful as you move forward and appreciate the opportunity to advise you with this important and challenging endeavor. Sincerely yours, David Marks, Chair Committee to Review the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap Attachment A: Biographical Information Attachment B: Statement of Task Attachment C: List of Reviewers
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