Desalination has largely been abandoned in Hawaii. But that’s about to change. Now On list of Recommended Sources for Better Water Management for Molokai & Other Islands

09 22 2020

Hawaii and the Islands of Molokai & Lanai are in need of more water supply.
So Hawaii is becoming the perfect place for seawater desalination.
But that process hasn’t really taken off here, but is about to.
Efforts to desalinate in an affordable way have fallen short of economic viability in the past. 


Desalination is now getting a relook by Water Advisory Council & Molokai Community
One of the biggest hurdles to past desalination projects has been cost.
Three factors impacting reconsideration: droughtclimate change, & population growth.
Work on solar desalination development has been different than past movements. Now being considered.
Plans to use renewable energy sources to help with the conversion of seawater to freshwater.

Reverse osmosis uses a high pressure to separate water molecules from the seawater-side of a chamber.
Water then flows through a membrane to the freshwater-water side.
Hopes is that new program can kickstart a movement & inspire investors to make desalination a viable option.
New technologies have alleviated some of the logistical and economic challenges presented in the past.

If the plant is built, it would pump out almost 2 million gallons per day.
Enough to support about 5,000 households.

Background to the SOLUTIONS:   The Role of Water Advisory Council (WAC)
Extent of Involvement has been to submit a Water Plan.
County is responsible for creating and implementing such a plan.
State Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) will have access to the plan
May accept recommendations from the DWS.

Some of the Recommendations that would Contribute to Molokai Water Management:

  • Use of recycled water (also known as grey water)
  • Utilizing new stream diversions
  • Treating surface water
  • Desalination of brackish water
  • Initiating agriculture efficiency groups

NOTE: Recommendations could be difficult to implement because of private company’s systems

“There just hasn’t been an affordable, effective reason to do it.” – Philip Moravcik, Technology transfer specialist. UH Manoa’s Water Resources Center

“People say water is going to be the new oil of the next century,” – Gregory Barbour, Natural Energy Lab, Hawaii

“We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a plant when we didn’t need it.”-  Barry Usagawa, program administrator, Honolulu Board of Water


12 Biggest Pros and Cons of Desalination –

Key Players:

Gregory P. Barbour, spokesperson with the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority
Dr. Albert S. Kim, Associate professor at UH’s Civil and Environmental Engineering

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