Desalination “too expensive” as Pacific island solution

A UN aid coordinator for the Pacific region said on 2 November 2011 that desalination was probably not a future solution for drought prevention in island groups like Tuvalu and Tokelau.

Peter Mueller, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told Radio Australia, “We don’t know what will come in the future in terms of climate change, but, under the current conditions, it may be a sort of emergency measure if there are future droughts, but normally rainfall … should cover the needs of people. It’s a matter of … catching that rain and not wasting rain; so that means using every space from roofing and so on to catch it”.

Asked if desalination was too expensive, Mueller said, “I think so, yes, and it requires maintenance – ongoing maintenance and cost, of course; so to catch (water) when it falls from the sky is much better and it’s much cheaper.”

Several reverse-osmosis desalination plants were sent to Tuvalu and Tokelau in October 2011 to help with a severe drought-related water shortage.