Plant opens on Thames to ensure plentiful water in event of drought
A desalination plant in Beckton, east London has opened to secure Londoners water supply in event of another drought. The plant draws brackish water from the Thames estuary as the tide is going out so as to minimise the salt content before using a four stage reverse-osmosis system to produce enough water for 400,000 homes.
The four-stage system has a freshwater yield of 85%, a significant improvement on traditional two-stage processes which have a freshwater yield of just 50%.
The plant is designed the systems to return the briny waste on the outgoing tide to minimise the risk to wildlife.
The desalination plant could be fed directly with and then clean up the waste water from the adjacent sewerage works but this would present what are presently thought to be insurmountable PR problems.
London and the south-east of England is short of water because the region has less rainfall per person than Istanbul or Sydney and the region is facing a steadily increasingly population.
Desalination is an energy intensive process so facility owners Thames Water have attempted to deflect criticism by powering the complex with biofuels.
The Environment Agency believes that water-metering should be rolled out to households in water-stressed areas to encourage more frugal water use by consumers and that the water industry should reduce leakage from its pipes.
Added the 10 June 2010 in category Innovation News