US commonwealth islands may turn to desalination

The US commonwealth of Northern Marianas may use desalination to solve its acute water shortage problems.

The islands’ governor, Ralph Torres, is reported in local online newspaper, Saipan Tribune, as declaring his administration’s goal is to have potable drinking water available 24-hours a day and “reverse-osmosis (RO) was worth looking at.” According to the newspaper, initial studies have shown the capital cost of the project at least US$44 million in capital to bring the technology to the islands.

The islands’ water infrastructure has been troubled with high levels of leakage as well as illegal tapping into the network according to newspaper.
The US military used portable RO units recently to help residents on the largest island, Saipan, to get clean drinking water from a lagoon after typhoon Soudelor struck the territory last August.

Meanwhile the Saipan Tribune reports the governor is yet to decide whether to accept the request from the islands’ water company, Commonwealth Utility, that he declare the water shortage a state of emergency.

Desalination has been proposed for the island in 2000 but the project was cancelled three times over the following 12 years.