Surface Water Monitoring

While offshore oil spills are the target of much media attention, the fact is that most water pollution is not caused by big tanker spills. Rather, water pollution avoidance requires a focus on the land and inland waterway spills and runoffs, who all together do much more to damage our drinking water than offshore marine spills. In fact, According to the US National Academy of Sciences publication, “Oil in the Sea” (2002)5 ; “Nearly 85 percent of the [110 million liters] of petroleum that enter North American ocean waters each year as a result of human activities comes from land-based runoff…[while] less than 8 percent comes from tanker or pipeline spills”. However, in order to enable more efficient and timely water pollution avoidance, what is required is persistent surface water monitoring.

Water supply desalination intake protection

As water tables drop, and as their salinity and contaminant concentration rises, many coastal regions are turning towards desalinization as a way to ensure secure water supply for their populations. In Israel, for example, nearly 50% of the nations potable water is supplied via state of the art desalination plants. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine Israel maintaining its dense population and relatively high quality of life without these plants.

 
However, surface water monitoring of the sea water undergoing desalinization is required for water supply desalination intake protection and potable water pollution avoidance. Such surface water monitoring must be automatic, sensitive to rapid changes brought about by wind and current, and persistent over time in order to prevent the entry of an unacceptably high level of contaminants into the tap water of the urban consumer.

Water pollution avoidance

Despite the many benefits of desalinization, there are quite a few concerns regarding the impact  marine pollution stemming from chemical discharges to the marine environment, and in particular hydrocarbons.
This is problematic because, according to the UN Environment Program " in desalination processes, for every liter of potable water produced, about 1.5 liters of liquid polluted with chlorine and copper are created. When pumped back into the ocean, the toxic brine depletes oxygen and impacts organisms along the food chain."

While most desalination plants take steps for water pollution avoidance, whether by more sustainable procedures or by processing and/or diverting toxic brine, this nevertheless poses a challenge to water supply desalination intake protection. Only constant surface water monitoring can ensure that the quality of the source of the desalinized water is high and that water supply remediation sites are speedily identified.