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COLD WATER ON SALT WATER 


I. 

The search for fresh water has effiplo 7 ed a large part of man^s energies 
for a very long tine because his very existence has depended on finding it. 
Civilizations themselves have risen and fallen with the water levels and 
history has often recorded the nigratione of people trying, among other 
things, to quench their thirst. 

They are still trying. In our country we have been hearing much in 
recent years about water shortages. Cattlemen and ranchers in the far West, 
plagued by a succession of severe drouths over a period of years, have been 
hard hit and in desperaticNi have turned to professional rain-makers, have 
petitioned Congress, or have just prayed. City dtmllers in the East and 
South have occasionally been sharply restricted in their use of water, have 
at times gone bathless, and, in restaurants and hotels, even drinkless. 

faced with the prospects of a nation getting thirstier and dirtier by 
the day, a joint committee of the United States Senate held a series of 
formal hearings in 1951 in an effort to remedy a situation reputedly bad 
and threatening to become worse. After a few preliminary remarks about 
Mark Twain's old saw to the effect that everybody talks about the weather 
but nobody ever does anything about it, the cosnlttee settled to the serious 
business of deploring two lines of thoxight: artificial raln-smking by cloud 
nueleatlon and converting salt water into fresh. There were considerations 
and debates, reports, letters, claims and counterclaims. All kinds of 
people in pubLlo and private life, many of them eminent and reasonable men, 
v'sre called to give their iestlteony. All kinds of sehemss for Increasing 
the available supply of water were proposed, eome of th« rational and 


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cautious, a f«w of them clearly lunatic. Erentually the coomittee emerged 
vlth a three hundred page report, calling for federally sponsored research 
Into raln-omklng and salt wator conversion* As subsequently reviewed by 
Congress, these goals were somewhat modified* Because of its equivocal 
nature, the problem of artificial rain-toaking was set aside altogether, and 
the bill that passed restricted itself to setting up a program for salt¬ 
water conversion, to be initiated by the Bureau of Reclamation and financed 
by two nUIian dollars from the public funds* In recognition of the high 
costs of turning salt water into fresh, the speeifle purpose of this program 
was to develop a means of reducing the costs of this operation to a point 
within reach of ordinary people: farmers, townspeople, and industrialists 
in all water restricted areas of the United States* 

The interesting thing about all this is that in neither coasdttee hear¬ 
ings nor Congressional d<^ts did anyone seriously challenge the assumptions 
underlying the bill, namely, that Uiere really is a general shortage of fresh 
water in the Ihilted States and that the conversion of sea water into fresh 
promises to be the most sensible way of increasing our supply of it* Jbst 
how wide of the mark these assumptions really are ^las been ^own by scimtists 
at The RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, in a foundation-supported 
study* Two engineers. Nr* James C* DsHavsn and Mr* Unn C* Gore, and an 
eoonosdst. Nr* Jack Hirshleifsr, have taken a good, hard lobk at our water 
problem and have reesntly issued their report, A Brief Survar of the Teohnologv 
^ of Sunelw* Because it goes far to dispel the errors of 

popular thinking that surround this issue at every turn and therefore deserves 
a wider audience than it ean ever have as a seisntifio report, the present 
writer has undsriaken to suamrise its essential points* 


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3 

Th« truth of the attter, as the RAND scientists point out^ is that the 
tern **water shortage" often eoneeals a confusion of thought* Thanks to the 
iMisnsitles of the hjdrologic cycle (the natural course of water in its 
rarious foms fron ocean to ataoephere to land), there can be no such thing 
as an absolute shortage of water. Rainfall for the United States as a idiole 
arerages approodnatelx 1,568,400 billion gallons a year* The total national 
consu^ition of water aaounts to about 4*7 per cent of this figure or 17 per 
cent if we deduct what is lost of this fay erapoiranspiration, the process 
whereby water froai the ground passes throu^ a plant and trca the leawes into 
the atmosphere. This is not to say that everybody has all the water he needs 
or that water in certain isolated cosnnities is not held at a prcmiUB. It 
is to say that water cannot be "short" in the ssnse that its total supply can 
be ashausted, for there is always nore water available^ ^for a ariee . The 
profalsBi, therefore, for any coamunity in need of water is one of detemining 
the most eeonoadeal and sKpeditious way of getting ita n«t inereaent. And 
when it coaas to eiaaining its water problea in this way, no eonanity of «iy 
sise in the United States today is likely to find salt<^ter convweion now 
or in the ioMdiate Atture the most sensible way of going about it. 

II. 

Superfieially as the issue was appraised in Washington, prbbably noidiere 
is it today nore gmerally aisunderstood at the popular level than in 
Southern California. Lee Angeles newspapers repeatedly talk about water 
shortages and Just as freouently chronicle new sohsass for turning sea water 
into fresh. Actually, there is no water crisis in Southern California 
at preecnt. But if water probl«s exist anywhere in the tkiited States, 



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3oath«rn California la a good plaeo to lode for thw. In fact, it ia a good 
plaeo to eonaidor tho «hola qaoation of watar ai 4 >pl 3 r in ganaral, for tha 
aituation thara in raapaet to aupplj and dwaand ia oora or laaa typical of 
what «ciata or aay aodat in tha Aitura in othar parta of tha eenntiy* liHLth 
regard to tha potantialitiaa of aalt-^tar eonraraioRf thia aaetion of 
California ia rapraaantatiTo of all eoaatal ragiona nharo poopla look 
flcpaetantlj to tha oeaan for additional aupplioa. Aa for tho aoB a w i iional 
aoureoa of fraah wator» whathar punpod fron tho ground or pipad in froii diatant 
aourcaif it ia eartainlj no battar off than othar loealitiaa of aqaal aiaa 
and inportanoa whara watar haa baocaw, rightly or wrongly, a poblie ‘aatta{ 
and it ia a graat daal woraa off than neat. Soaw of tha thinga, tharafora, 
that eon ba uaafblly aaid or dona about tha aituation thara jmj wall bo of 
ai^floanea aX a aw h aro. 

It ia not antiraly vnataral that tha publie outcry about water ahertagaa 
ahould ba aapoeially loud in Southern CaXifemia* With a yaaily rainfuU of 
about fiftaan iaehaa, and thaaa alnoat antiraly during tha wlntar aontba, tha 
land outaida tha dtloa ia diatroaain^ dry for long paileda of tho yoar* 
Ihiriag aueh tlaaa water playa a arltiealt Indeed a apaetaeular, role, partiou- 
larly idian tho only water to ba had auat oom out of a pipe* At laaat one 
of tha alandag thlaga you oan aay about Lea Angalaa ia that though water 
■akaa it b loon a r an aa the roa a t ha daaart thraatana to realala it whaoorar 
you turn off tha tap* 

Iharo are other plaaea ia tha OkdLtad Statea that are aoro arid tha year 
round, but none of than evaa a pp raaahaa Seuthani Gallfoittia Induatrially or 
in population* Half of all the people ia Oalifomia lire la thia one oomor 
of tha atate, ia what ai^ rddfhly ba oalled tha Lea Aagelea area* fha 



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region comprises the * r counties of Los Angeles, 3sn Bernardino, Riverside, 
and Orange, and adjoins San Diego and its environs to the south. For a 
large and growing population the area provides less than 1.5 per cent of the 
state*8 total i«ater supply. This 1.5 psr cent represents the water c(mtained 
in a chain of aquifers, naturally formed reservoirs that underlie the area 
and are charged by runoff from the mountains to the north and east. It is 
relatively cheap water, about $5 an acre-foot (325fS51 gallons), free to 
anyone eoccept for the expense of digging a hole in the ground and pumping it 
out. 

This is precisely %4iat people in ever increasing numbers have' bean doing. 
In 1949 approodmately 980,000 acre-feet were drawn from these underground 
sources, principally for irrigational pun>oaes* This rate of draft is about 
250,000 acre-feet per year beyond the capacity of the aquifers to recharge 
themselves, for the water level has bem consistently falling for a number of 
years. Today it is largely below sea level, in some places as much as seventy 
feet. This is a dangerous level in areas near the ocean because of the 
possibility of contamination by salt water. In fact this has actually 
occurred, to the gre4it diamay of people whose wells have be« made useless 
as far inland as two and three miles. In brief, if we consider the lack of 
rainfall, the sandy river beds, the contttdnated wells, the falling water 
table, and a persistently growing demand for water, the picture looks pretty 
grim. If there really is a water problem anywhere in the United States, it 
certainly ought to be in Southern California. 

But tha picture is alarming only if one does not look closer. During the 
early devalopmmt of this arts, it was raalited that the capacity of the local 
undarground supply was going to be insufficient to meet the deoands of 


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«qpMt«d growth and dorolopMnt* la 1913 an aqaaduet to tha (hiwia RlTai waa 
Inatallad and latar octandad to tha Mono batia. It haa a praaant eapaeity 
of about 320«000 aera-faat a yaar* For aaay yaara axoaaa wlatar flow frou 
thia ayatau aaa uaad to racharga tha aqulfar ondar tha San Famaado Vallay 
for oaa during paak dauanda in tha mmmmr* In raeant yaara* howa ra r, iaeraaaad 
yaar-round dauaad nada atoraga out of tha quaation. To aaat thia thraat, tha 
Natropblitan Watar Matrlet of Soutbarn California ran an aqnaduet of Iwanaa 
proportiflua all tha any to tha Colorado Riaar. Sinea 1941 thia rirar haa 
baan aupplying tha araa alth a gradually ineraaalng aaount of fraah aatar* 
During fiaeal yaar 1951-52 thia eaaa to 150,000 aera-faat. Thia aaount plua 
appreodaata&y 320,000 trm tha (hmaa ttaar, plua 980,000 freai tha loaal ground 
auppily firaa a total of 1,450,000 aera»faat aa tha annual watar eonauuption 
of tha four aatropblitaa aountiaa. Tha Oiatriet oan aupply than with aa 
draft of about 1,050,000 aara-faat freu tha Colorado. Tha aquaduet 
wan oenatruotad to haadla thia oapaoity plua aa additional 150,000 aera-faat 
far tha San Olago ragien. In othar worda» ourrtnt uaa froa tha aquaduot la 
only a fraation of tha oapaoity aaaiCMd to tha aroa. Tha untappod 900,000 
aora-foat a yiar io noro than oaftloiant to allow a 60 par eont inoroaoa in 
tha p r oo o ni oonouiVtion af watar. 

lido additional oaount af watar# it mot bo atelttod# la in dioputa. 
Litightien botwao n Colifonda and Ariaona avor intarpratation of oarlior 
aontraoto la now boforo tha 1upr»o Court. Should tha Court find in favor 
af Ariaena, it ia parfbatly raaennaMa tO' auppoaa that raaUaaatlono would 
ba nada anew. 

Thara r—Ina a farther poaaibility af bringiag watar trm tha Faathar 
Rivar watarohad north af laarananta whara thara ia aa anaaa aupply. A plan 


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P*g* 7 

to plpo it all tha waj dom to the Meodean border hae alreadj been outlined 
bjr the Oirieion of Water Reeourees of the California State Departawnt of 
Public Worka. It would have an estlaated capacity of 3«6CX),000 acre-feet a 
year* of which 850,000 le eeheduled for Loa Angelee and surrounding areae. 

In pGLain tenu, if we ignore all other additional soureea—>rediatxdbution 
and reclamation of water already used or the poesibilities of turning the 
Pacific into drinking water~thie part of Southern California has a potential 
supply of about three million acre-feet of fresh water a year or twice the 
amount now consumed* Even if population and industrial otpanslon continue 
at the same phenomenal rate of the past ten years, this amount of water ea*i 
be considered adequate for a long time to come* The term ■hiater ahortagi^ 
in Southern California really moans only that the next increment of water is 
going to cost more than the last. 

Peofde are already paying more, for there is no additional supply of |5 
water from underground. Owens Birer water ie about $20 an acre-foot. 

Colorado water, softened, is about the same price; unsoftened, about |10. 

Water piped down from the Feather River will be meet SKpsnaive of all, perhaps 
$50 to 1100 an aore-foet or evsn more. It is ^vious, therefore, that if we 
acknowledge the realities of the problem, we should be talkiag about what 
water can be had and what we are going to pay for it. And it is in just such 
terms that we ou|d*t to oonsider the popular proposal to convert sea water 
into drinking water. 

in. 

Any popular discussion of water shortage is frequently if not invariably 
followed by a proposal to convert salt water into fresh. And semsbcdy, it 


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will umialljr b« addwd, had battar huri 7 up tad do a«aMthiii( about It. 

Thara la a eartain juatifleation for paopla*a thinking along thaaa linaa. 
It io gtnarally knoiai that diatiUation ia uaad bj ahipa at aaa, haa baan^ in 
faetf arar ainea Sir John HaulgFna aailad againat tha Spaaiab aona four hundrad 
jaara ago. It ia alao a ralatiralj alnpla proeaaa, raqniring only a taa- 
kattla and a flra. What noat paopla do not know ara tha mgiaaaring and, in 
partieular, tha aeononie diffienltlaa of ehanging aalt watar into fraah on 
any largo aeala. With ra a paet to thaaa diffleultiaa, aalt-uaiar eonvaraion 
haa a popular appaal that ia not wamntad by tha facta. 

Thera ara a nu nhar of nothoda eurrantly in operation in and out of tha 
laboantory that raago fhon aia^a diatlUiag to nora or laaa eon^oatad 
dMadeal prooaaaaa. In affaet thay all ranrwra althar tha aalt froai tha watar 
or tha watar trm tha aalt* Anong thoaa that taka tha watar away froa tha 
aalt, tha oklaat and aia^aat ia tha diatiUation prooaaa. It oonaiata 
baaioally of aaporitiag watar fron aalt watar by haat and th«i oondanaiag 
tha atain* The ■Mhin aty inrolvad ia thia prooaaa variaa trm tha pookaU 
•iaa aontrlnnaa aaad by diatraaaad aanon to tha largo on—or dial avaperator* 
Tha nultipla-affaot avaperator la nothing aera than a aarlaa of diatilliag 
unitOf oallad affaota, aonnaotad with aaah atoar no that tha aioin or vapor 
trm on# ia uaad to heat tha aalt water ia tha a«ci, and aa on daw tha Una 
to aa way aa flra or aix affaata* Saah ia tha ana built r a o a at ly ia Paraia, 
tha largaat nultipi»■ affaet avaperator ia wiatenaa and onpaMa of aupplylng 
720,000 0 f fMi water a day* Zn apita of Ita ainpllalty end tha 

partial adonatafa of Ufttag itaalf, ia affaat, by lie awn boat atrapa, thin 
pwtJ mlnr nathod of getting fPaoh water ia ana af tha nora eRpenalva* Tb 
pradaae an aera fbat af water aaata ahaat 11200 , a aaot that aan ba raduaad 
to—any 1900 If waata haat ia e^dayad* 


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7-16-5J* 

The problem of heat it oaturmlly of great iaportacce aad haa been 
solved in a fev instances by the direct application of solar energy. This 
is the method utilized in the salt eater conversion kits used aboard life 
rafts in World War 11 • It vas also used as far back as the 1880's in Chile, 
vhere a distillation system «as set up in the nitrate nines to provide 6,000 
(Allans of fresh eater a day. The equipnent, covering an acre of ground 
aad reseoiiling a very large greenhouse, consisted of vooden trays filled 
vlth salt eater under sloping glass covers. Beat from the sun turned the 
eater into vapor ehi^ collected on aad then ran down the glass covers into 
a system of pipes sad receptacles. The fact that the energy to operate this 
method is had for nothiag is much in its favor, thouf^ the vast acreage 
necessary to produce eater in large quantities has made econocists stop 
and consider. Even so, this method can produce freeb eater at the rate of 
$350 an acre-foot, and suppoeing a more ideal process eitta greater efflciences. 
engineers have eetlaated that costs in the Aiture aay be reduced to $100. 

A acre recent developmeat is the vapor-coi^resslcn ev^ovator. Xa this 
device, vapor tvm salt eater is elthdreen by piav from an evaporator jdiell, 
is coacnressed to Increase its coBdenaation temperature a fee degrees, and 
Is then returned to a beat emehaagir eithln the evaporator shell. Bere It 
condenses, the latent heat given off being used to heat more saline eater 
la the shell. This kind of ev a p<n mt or Is more economical than the multipla- 
effbct type and can be buUt more compactly. According to Dean flbci^food of 
the Nseeachusette Institute of technology, it can produce freeb eater for 
arouad $700 an acra-foot. Thus fsr only ralatlvaly tmXL unlta have bean 
eonetructed. but larger omee are perfectly feaelhle. With Isgrovenante they 
ai^ produce this aamt snount of eater in the future for $200. 




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Hge 10 


Ptrh&p« tii« Bost ingtnioQs aithod of oil it that of tho Fronch otlontlot 
Georges dsude. Working on the jnrlnclple thst teaperatiire differences in 
nature ccaistlt\xte a potential source of energ/. Claiide suggested an apparatus 
that utilized cold deep sea eater and relatively earn surface eater. In 
this systen, eant sea eater is piped into sn evai>orator under reduced pressure 
etiere a snail ftmction evaporates, gaining its latent heat throu^ a 5^ P 
cooling of the remainder of the eater. The vapor fomed passes to a con- 

t 

denser at still lover pressure, ehere it is condensed by cooler sea eater. 

An untisual feature of this method is that in addition to fresh eater it 
produces energy in the form of eleetrlcity. The vapor as it passes from 
the evaporator to the condWMer is aade to operate a turbine, connected in 
turn to a generator. A snail model nov in operatic at the Uhlverslty of 
California requires 10 horsepoeer to generate 4.6 horsepower of electricity. 

A much larger and therefore nore efficient unit, capable of producing 100.000 
gsllnns of water. would generate a little acre electricity than is needed to 
operate the punps. When coopletely aeseaibled and in operation, this machine - 
one has to resist the impulse to call it a contraption •• ought to produce 
large quantities of fresh water and the iUusioa of perpetual notion. 

Engineers have proposed the construction of a plant in Abidjan, French West 
Africa, and it has been estinated that it could supply water for as little 
as $150 an acre>foot. If waste heat is used in lieu of an undersea pipe line, 
the cost nl^t be reduced to 4100. 

There are other ways of reaovlng water from salt. but most of them have 
not progressed beyond the exploratory stage and are therefore difficult to 
evaluate. 

one such netbod involves frsezing fresh-water crystals out of a 





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ftge 11 

solution. Aside firoo the fact that It could not produce an acre-foot of 
fresh water for much under $400. there is the technical difficulty, not yet 
satisfactorily overccxne, of eliislnating the salt water that occasionally 
becones entrapped within the crystals. Another method, for which there are 
no cost estimates hut which is technically feasible, operates by means of 
semi-permeable aeidOranes. Salt water, separated froa fresh by a aeobrane, 
is subjected to pressure that is sufficient to upset the oaantic balante, 
and fresh water is extruded from the salt through the naBbrane. The method 
does not work %rall even in the laboratory, and any atteiipt on a large and 
practical scale would inevitably meet with troubles. One of the more serious 
would be to keep the menbranes from plugging up or collapsing under pressure- 
Taking water out of salt is only one way of separating the two. Con¬ 
versely, one may remove the salt from the water. Such prcceaaea have an 
advantage over those already mentioned in that their coats vary significantly 
with the amcunt of solids to be removed, unlike evaporative processes, whose 
energy requirements change little if brackish (semi-salt) water instead of 
sea water is used. 

Methods for removing salts are largely ebeaieal in nature. The classic 
one is the silver-salt precipitation unit develpped for life raft use during 
the war. Itafortunately. the very high costa of the chemicals naturally 
eliminate preelpitatlon methoda from consideration. In recent years a new 
diemlcsl process, the ion exchange method, has bean developed. This aakse 
use of resins that alter the dienlcal nature of salt water to produce freah 

I 

water. The resins, hcwever, have to be periodically renewed, and the chemicals, 
together with some of the desalted water itself, needed for this regeneration 
seriously affect the econoifly of the process. In fact, the cost is prohibitive— 


P-$46-SC 
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Page 12 

18000 an aere-foot—tseapt for tho troatamt of braeldah water, ahieb eontaine 
fewer aolid partlelee than aea water, larael hat reoentlj built a pilot 
piUnt of thia kind for juat aueh a pttrpoae. 

Otoe other aethod, the eleetreljtio ion exchange proeeea, ehould be 
Mmtioaed if cnlj beeanee of the ree«it intereet in it# Althouidt the detaila 
of crwarol a1 unita hare not been releaaed bgr the nanufaeturer, thegr obrioualj 
Mfloj a nedified fora of electrolTaia# Under ordinary eirouaataneea the 
oltiaate effect of eleetrolyaia on aalt water would be to deeoapoae water into 
ita conatituenta, hydrogen and caygan, leering a aaddy, conoentrated reaidue 
of adida# la effect, one would and with aalt but no water# In the aethod 
under diacuaaion, howerer, thia aituation ia foreatalled by different aaabranea, 
per aa able to iona of one kind of electrical charge, lapaiaaahle to thoae of 
another# A aeriea of cella aeparated by audi waabranea producea concaatrated 
aolutioiw of aalt water in aoaa of than, freah water in othera# It waa 
originally aaaerted by the nanufaeturer that freah water could be aade in thia 
way for $30 to $65 an acre-foot# One can only auppoae, howerer, that theae 
eoata were unduly optiaiatio, for according to recent newa reporta they hare 
been reriaed upward to $500 an acre-foot# Greater effieianeiea in the Ibture 
nay bring thia down to around |130# 

The whole queetion of detenaiaiag the eoata of taming aalt water into 
freah ia adaittedly a difficult one# With few ttcoptiona, no planta with 
a capacity aufflciant to noet the noeda of a coanunity hare erer bean built# 
Soaa of the prceeaaoo deaeribed bare not oran been operated in the laberatery# 
In addition, eoata aupplied by the aanufactarer or dcaiffior arc often auapeet 
booaaae one addon knowa how they hero bean eanpetod, or whether aaortiaation, 
ebodcocanee, operating aBcpanaea and energy coota hare all bom Indadod 







P-5i»6-RC 

7-I6-5U 

X3 

or adequately considered. Furthermore, any consideration of a future 
reduction in costs Is, by Its very nature, hypothetical and depaods, among 
other things, upon a careful appraisal of future technologlaal possibilities. 
Sene conversion processes, for Instance, appear to have reached the limits 
that present and esqpected future technolog/ vUl permit. Others can and 
■ay liq>rove vlth tlae. In any such survey as this, coiqplete and rigidly 
enact costs are out of the question, but the estimates that have been made 
are approximate. Approxlaatlons are all that ve can ask for. After all, 
one cannot reasonably object that cost estlaates come out of sooething that 
resesibles a crystal ball. Qhfortunately, there Is no other place to look 
for them. One may only ask that the ball be free of obvious cracks. 

Prom the vlev of conserving natuaral resources and of estlaited louest 
ultimate cost per unit of fresh eater, those processes which use teqperature 
differences, the daude method, for Instance, and direct solar energy are 
the most economical and most promising for development. Ihe use of atesde 
energy Is not at present a solvttlon to the problem. IJtatll its costs are 
considerably lower than they are now, we are going to have to continue 
using the more conventional sources of power. It should be remarked, however, 
that the ecanooy of processes which take the salt out of the water, as dis¬ 
tinct from those that remove the Mter from the salt, is directly related to 
the amount of solids present. It Is reasonehle to suppose that the fonwr 
processes miy be used la the near future for the treatmnt of braekleh waters 
where removal of one or two thoueand parts per milllan can produce good 
Irrigation water, the oounter-flow ion exoheags system My be able to rnmnn 
one thoueand parts of solids for about $190 per acre-foot. It tee been said 
that the electrolytic Ion exchange system oaa do tbs asms Job for $10 an 


P-5*^6-RC 
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page lU 

aert-focrt. Othtr mart eooMrvativa •■tiaataa place this coat at about $120 
aa acre-foot. 

Aa aaalyela of coata ahould ccaalder the poaaiblllty’ of aarketable 
by-produeta. The oceaa coatalna at leaat traces of half the eleneata, aa& 

It la techaleally poaaible to extract thea. Ubfortuaately^ only aodiua aad 
igiealuB aalta aa& broalae caa acw be extracted ecoaaiiU.oaIly, aad theae are 
so ahuadaat aad aheap that there la eery little profit la thea. la addltloo, 
If really large edLuaea are produced (aad It la poaaible that efflcleat 
extractloo aay depaod iqpoa large eduaea), poteatlal galaa eay be offaet 
by a fhll la prlcaa. Oae auat coMlude that the reductloa la the coat of 
eater eoaeeraloa hy the aala of by-producta la act slgaifleaiit. 

The qMatlca of coat la a critical caa la this argunaat. There la ao 
preaent lack of eaterj there ia aore tfaaa eaough readily aeailahle. Xh 
Southen Ohliforaia, aa al a ae h ere, the ao-callad eater shortage aleaya turaa 
out la the aad to be a gueatloa cf ehat the aext laereaeat of eater vUl coat. 
Xf ee coapare the eatiwted coata of eoBfertlag aea eater lato tmth vith 
prj aaaat coata of wtoral eater la Chliforala — aad Ohlifomla prioaa of 
$9 - $20 aa acre-foot are repraaaatatiee of eater coata la wny other parta 
of the Halted ttatea — the aaaiair ia dear. Sea eater oaa coat trcm aeeea 
to aeeeral huadred tiaM aa auob aa aatitral eater. Bare are aoM aaa chaagaa 
vith a eaagMaaa. Pr o b a b ly the beet that oaa be aaid ia that the chaapaat 
oalt<eiatar eoanrereioi pvooeea cperatlag at acw iadafiaite tiae la the Aiture 
aad at gmateet effieleaeiaa aiy be ooapetitiee la price vith aatoral eater 
broa^ la trm eery dieteat aeareae. There already are auch plaaaa aloag 
the Pnrataa Oalf. There ie good t eeeoa, therefore, to ewr^nTgf 
aMt of Ugroved eee eat e r ccavireica arthcde. Bat ttere ere ao 


the deeaiop' 




P-5^6-RC 
7-I6-5U 
P»ge 15 


areas of any size In the Ublted States where this situation exists today or 
Is likely to develop In the foreseeable future. 


IT. 

If we are really going to do sonethlng useful about cur water supply, 
the ecooonlc facts of life should lapel us In a slightly different direction, 
not toward salt water conversion — certainly not lanedlately — but In the 
direction of conservatloni redistribution, and reclaaatlon of the water we 
already have and use. 

Increasing the natural supply of water Iqr artificial nucleaclon over 
wide areas does not seen iHKdlately feasible In qplte of enthusiastic reports 
In the n ew s p a pers and the elalas of professional and aoateur raln-Mkers. 
under certain conditions there Is pretty good evidence that cloud seeding 
serves to decrease rather than Increase precipitation. It appears, however, 
to have sons value in specialized local areas. In coiid>lnatlon with additional 
Bsasures, artificial aerodyaaale barriers ud artificially altered reflectivity 
of the earth's surface, It way in the future assist nature la depositing rain 
where we want It. It la not likely to beeose a source for large euppliee of 
frtah water. There are aany other sort praetleaible and profitable thlaga to 
be done. 

One of the first things we algbt do Is to rtdues the svaporatlvs losses 
of water froa stoiagc lakes and reatryolra. m aoaa extreaa Instsneea It 
la prebable that the waste by evaporatloa equkl* the amount drawn for use. 

For airnmli, a reesnt study by tbs FUdsxal gowa m asnt showed that loaasa by 
evaporatloa at Lakt BtfUer la Oklabaaa emnuated on the average to about 90 
per emt of tbs outAow. giaoe then the lavestlgatore have moved to lake 



P-546-RC 
7-16-54 
Pact 16 

Haadf and althoach ramilta hart not ba«k rtltaatd, Iht loaats thtra, if 
eo^waU.# to tbOM at Lakt Htfhar« atj apfroodjaato 800«000 aort-ftti a jaar, 
a qaaatity of aatar ntarlj tqual to all that it oenaaMd bj tho gFmt&t Lot 
Anctloo araa in tht taat loncth of tlat* 

How to put an tnd to thit waato la not proatntly knoiai. N 04 until 
raetotlj wm it aran poaalhia to taanra it with anj dtp^ of praeitioD. 
Uhatarar ean bt doiit« howavar^ hgr oil lajara or othar foraa of Inaolation 
will ba a poaitiwa caln« and Mjr prara to ba far lata «cp«iaiTa than brincinc 
in an aqoal aMtBt of watar Am aort diatant tooroaa* 

Slailar to loot bf avaporation it lota hf atapatranapiratioBf whtrtlB 
watar pataaa froa tha creond throoch ▼acatation and thatea into tht ataoaphara* 
Far tha Uhitad Staton aa a wliola it ia aatlaatad that bgr thin natural proetaa 
72 p» otat of tha avaraft raialbll littraUgr taniahat into thin air. Soat 
of thin loan oeeora ia tha crawth of banafleial plasta# aueh aa oropa and 
foraatot and ia tharafora unawoldablat but warn of it, parhapa a aaouat, 
takaa plaaa ia tha crawth of undatlrabla wacatatiOB. Tha aalt pinaa, for 
taMfla, that gptm alaac wataraoaraaa, aaad thair roota daap into tha aqnifar 
lad ara ptady tBaaiawra of watar. Tnaaannh aa thaaa pdaaa art food for 
aaithar mtk nor baaat, tha «at« that aartaraa tiMB ia waatad. Xa aaat araaa 
m affart ia alraady batac aada ta aradiaata thaa tad aiailar cFowtha in 
larca Mbara. Snatlj how aaah aaa ba aatad ia thia maaar enaot jot ba 
datiwtaad, bat It ap ba raty aaaaidata bla . 

Thaa thara ara diraat aaoaoaia aaaaarM that ap ba appliad. Thouch 
Saathwa Califaraia a arrt t aa aa tnapla, thaaa aataurao hart aairaraal 
appUaaiiaa. 

tha aaX^ raallr alawdac thUic shawt tha aa^ajllad watar ahatiaca la 
OtUfarala ia tha aitaatiaa with r aa p a a t ta craund watar. Tha watar laadl of 
th. t^dAr ta. AwM itadllr bMMM at muaaa r m t n f tte iwdto art 





P-5^6-RC 

7 - 16 - 5 *> 

Pa«e IT 

twofold: an iBcrMte In the coat of puqplng water firon thle underground 
source end e costly Intrusion of sea water Into the aquifer as far InLand 
as two or three sdles. The laportaat thing about these costs Is their 
Inequitable distribution. The Increased cost of punping falls upon aU 
well aeners, regardless of vhere they live; but the Intrusion of sea water 
involves a najor, even catastrophic, loss only to those directly affected, 
and no loss at all to those further inland who any be eqjually responsible 
for the condition. It la the Intrusion of salt water that constitutes the 
really serious prohlen because It aay in tine do Irreparable dsasge to the 
aquifer as a whole, and because the cost the dsasge lies disproportionately 
heavy, and therefore laequltshlyi upon property owners near the coast. In 
other words the private cost of pueqtlng does not aecurataly refLeet the social 
costs. 

What is needed here it s water uae tax on piaspere that will reflect the 
eoeial coet of the Intruelon to the roeimity me a whole. Prorating or 
rationing the uee of enter it a eoaparatlvely inefficient renedy. It does 
little or nothing to preve n t wsete by the Individual pingtr and then, once 
the quota le reached, cute off the eupply completely however intenea the 
deaend. A elnpla tax per unit of water drawn la aa easily saforesahls sad 
provldts revaaus with which to rspslr the social loaaas. Still aaothsr 
coaaaraatlva Masurt la tht poaslblllty of eonsuigdlva pricing of water. 
which would diargs aors f«r water that was '\Md wp* (intar whldi is een- 
taninstsd or Is lost by aenporstlon or naroff) than for water which la 
rsturasd to the aquifer by ^raediag bade and rtchargiag wnila. Such a 
policy ou^ to aamurage Induatry to adopt aoDconsuaptiva tactelqiuea. It 
la well taMwn that plaata differ widely in thair una of water even When 
■unihsturini the ema prodaet. Ihtalllgent 


ktion pmetloaa 


P-5U6-RC 

T-l6.5*^ 

Pi«9 16 



aetuilly tun m ladnctrial plaat Into • aat emtrUmtar, even thou^ e well 
OM, to tilt fftmrwl Mvp&y of iMter In the eqnlftr. Sliie le precletly the 
•ituntlea at the Oenten 8t«tX Ilaat near Provo, Utah. Dmvinf PM) nlllloa 
p lloM a Aigr, this plant aetuallj eooauana only 3 por cent, the rest being 
reetored to the aqolfer. Ihla anil uee la nore than aide by deereaeed 
evapotrnaeplration loee in the plant area. 

Coaaervntlan of fireeh eater nipt even entail the direct uee of eea 
eater for a nnber of ueefbl purpoeee In area# vhere It le readily acceaalble. 
There are ooaatal eitlea, for eaepLe, that uae aea eater for fire protection. 
May Indoetrlal or aanitary purpoeee night eaally be a erve d by aalt eater. 

The direct uee of aea eater ralaea the very Intereatlng but little 
explored aohjeet of "ocean fhmiai*. Mter baa ever been recoplaad aa an 
Important aouroe of food. Mliptenad fhnwre, for Inatanoe, taiav tint by 
proper fhrtUimtion they cm groe acre neat (la the fom of flab) on aa 
aera pond than pork or beef on aa acre of dry land. Nora apeclfloally, the 
artificial oalture of oyatera for paarla and food and the cultivation of 
cropa llha hblp are laataaeaa of bov tha ooaaa Itaalf vm be 
*fhmid*. Tha varlatlea of plaat Ufa la tha aaa m fwer aad alivler 
tbaa thoaa on load, but thay produoa tha baale food for all Brine life 
and mpt eonealBhly ba eultlvalad for hunaa or aalnl oonaiaptlon. Ivb 
hatber, It U not l^poaalhle thet uoefhl load planta audb aa rioa, for 
laatanoa, adpt by aaUctlve hreediai ba adaytad to aarlae ^roath. Thla 
preaaaa U not without preaadwt. tone of the hlpeat focna of Brine 
flflcn, auah aa the flowerlag planta, uere orlglBlly land fona la tha 
avolutiflaafy paat. Thla la a aiMJaat that arlaa out fOr laveatlgatlon, 
for the direct um of the cb to pr oiaea food my hold paatar pronlB fOr 
tha Imp aaala prodaetlon of ohaap food thB aay prooaaa for eonvertlp 





P-546-RC 
7-16-54 
P«g« 19 

•M wftt«r to froth witor for produetloo of food in tho eonvmtional ainnor* 

Htad in hand with eontorvttioo goot rodiatrihation idiarorar thia will 
roault in a aoro aconoaio uaa of wator. Whila tha four aatropolitan eountiaa 
haoa a Colorado Rivar allocation of about 1,050,000 aero-foot, tho laporial 
Vallaf and adjaeant aroaa havo allooationa of about 4,150,000. Othor aroaa 
haoa roaidual elaiaa. Eaaaitlallj all the water for areas outaida tho coastal 
ragion gooa into rdLatiralj low-oaluo agricultural uaos* It is tharoforo 
quite poaslblo that bj tho tiaa tho hoavilj populated coastal area is paying 
150 for its water it aay bo able to nako a aatiafaetory agrawwnt to buy 
aoao of tho water alloeatad to othor aoctiona. 

There is still ona other huge aourco of fresh water that nuat be 
Mntioned. Startling thou^ it is at first ^lanee, thia is the reelanation 
of fresh water fToa aaa ag e. This is the sort of thing that dhlighta «igineera 
and econoniats but nakea ordinary people grow pale. Nhether we like it or 
not, reelanation of aoctly thia kind is going on inadrertontly in rirar towos 
that use the sane atrean at once as a eooBon sowar and a source of freah water. 
It la also going on in Southern Califccnla where the orerflew trm thousands 
of septic tanks enters the aquifers, to be subssqeantly punned cut for 
wnicipal and irigational purposes. And no one is the worse for it. Misre 
pr^erly centroUsd there is no danger to public health. The nowant. of 
water fma sewage through sin or nore feet of earth reduces the presence of 
hantful crgMiaM bdlew the tolerable lofbl. Of coarse, if sueh a achena 
ware intenUonilly put into effect, there would be engineering and legal 
prohl— to sclee. Cenoideriag the resistance people can put up against 
having th—sires and their dogs lasunised for di s ea s e, one nl^it guess that 
the legd. preblena would fbr outweigh the technical. As a problen in ing1 near 
iac it is perfectly feasible. 



P-546-RC 

7-16-54 

20 

All thinct eoBsldcrtd, this toure* of froth wtitr it nieh elottr to 
btlne atalLiblt at a nich lontr OMt than oatar provldtd tagr anjr knowi ntana 
of t«a-«attr oonrtrtion* It tmj, in faet, be nort teoooBieal than piping in 
water frew Ttrjr diatant tourett* In tht Lot Angtlot araa nor# water it avail¬ 
able froti tewage than it now breit^ frow the Owe nt M o n o waterthed. Thit aetnt 
that abont AOOtOOO aere-feet a yearf or about half the total aaoimt of water 
now being uaed^ eould be Mde available for the Loe Angelet area froai thit 
touree alone at a coot b etwet n $30 to |35 an aere-foot. At nore water it 
drawn tram the Colorado bj an inereattd population^ proportionatalj nore water 
will be available through reolaaation, eoneeivablj an additional nilHon aere- 
feet a year. It it a tlnple inatanee of to hla that hath thall be given* 

If IfAOOfOOO aere-feet of water fTon reolaintd tewage are added to the 
quantiUet obtainable fTaa all oUmt natural aoureee—730,000 fron the ground, 
320,000 tram the Owmt llver» 1,050,000 fron the Colorado, and 850,000 fren 
the Faather Uv e r S o u thern Califoniia haa a potential tupply of well over 
four nlllion aere-feet of fTeeh water a year* And theee are eoureet and 
quantitiee that are in aona degree detemiaable* Additional anounta of water 
that nay evwtually eena through prevention of evaporation, purohaoe fTon the 
illeoation of other reglena, or fbrthor lapounding of runoff, are not here 
Inolndod only b ooa ne o they are leoa oaloulahle* They are net leaf real* 

Ibare la no genorally aoeepted way of eotlnatlng the future donand for 
water* In gonoral tana the donand ia fovemod by the reatditlal and 
iadaatrlal pattoma of a oonataity, by the level of b u ain oaa aetivity and 
hf the price of water itarlt, whioh, aa it inoroaaaa, tend# to ohook the par 
capita uae* In SoatiMVB Oilifornia the danand far water ia the paat haa 
baaa oloadly related to growth ia population* It will prawahly ooatiaao 
to be* Betw a i 1930 and 1990, for iaataaoe, total water ooaanaption kept 



P-546-RC 
7-16-54 
PMg9 21 

pfte« with total populatim, each Just about doubling. Ths par capita use 
during this time rsnalnod aloost constant. Increasing slightly in hosMS and 
industries, decreasing on farais. Assuning then that the population will 
continue to grow, but barring a radical increase in the rate of growth, one 
■ay conclude that the potential supply of fresh water (through the $50 - HOO 
cost range) of appreadaately three tines the present consuaption will be 
adequate for a long time to eosie, at least tw«ity years^ peHiaps eren longer. 

Reclaoatlon, conservation, red!stribution—these are neasures that can 
usefully be eegdeyed, and net only in California but in other places as well. 
Most of then are already feasible^ and in contrast to aethods for eonvertiag 
sea water into fresh water they are ineoepsnsiee. Singly and together thqy 
can furnish large inersasnts of fresh water when they are needed. When they 
are needed is an iaportant cenaideration. The aqueduct to the Colorado, 
indispensable as it is today and a aonuasnt to civil engineering, aigr have 
been built at least five years toe soon in that only ccaparatiTsly ainor use 
was aide of its facilities for about that length of tins* Miat it cost 
asanwhile in heavy interest and aaertisatien charges aade it an aApeasive 
venture in putlic finance. ¥e can sake the sane Mistake all over again by 
ruahing to construct salt-^ter c enve rai en plants before we need thos. Ihsre 
■ay COM a tins In oartain areas of the country «h«i we shall have to tun 
to ths ocean for fresh water» when salt-eater conversion will be loss 
ttpansiTe than any other souree. But that tins is not new. Certainly not 
whea large quantities of fresh water are already at hand and ev«i largar 
quantities will be available for years to cons. If we stop talking about 
water shortages and considar the problm in tons of supply and oosts» we 
will be prepared to do sonethlng sensible about it wiMn we need to do it 
and not before.