UN gives EIA guidance for desalination

In September 2008, the United Nations Environment Programme released a new guidance document entitled Desalination – Resource and Guidance Manual for Environmental Impact Assessments.

The UNEP publication offers guidance for designers of desalination projects, consultants, regulators and decision makers on the methodology, scope and contents of environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies and specific to desalination projects.

It is divided into three parts. In part A, an introduction to the concept, methodology and practice of EIA is given and a 10-step EIA approach is outlined.

Part B serves two purposes: it can be used as a template for preparing EIA reports and it gives an overview on a wide range of thematic issues that may be relevant to desalination projects and should be considered during the scoping phase of projects.

Part C discusses the potential impacts of desalination plants on the environment, based on a comprehensive literature review, and evaluates the identified impacts in terms of significance and relevance for EIA studies.

The UNEP guidance combines results from the World Health Organization project on “Desalination for safe water supply” (as reported in D&WR May/June 2008) and results from the European research projects “Membrane-based desalination – an integrated approach” (MEDINA, http://medina.unical.it/). It can be downloaded from the UNEP website: www.unep.org.bh

Reported by: Sabine Lattemann