WHO Guidance Document on Desalination for Safe Water Supply

Desalination of seawater or brackish water is a major and rapidly growing source of drinking water. Advances in the technology and economics of desalination are rapidly making desalination one of the most desirable options for providing high quality safe drinking water in regions all over the world. This is particularly the case where fresh water supplies are inadequate to support the health and welfare needs of the current population, as well as to provide an engine for enhanced economic growth and improved quality of life.



To facilitate the introduction of desalination benefits on a wider scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has embarked on a process to produce WHO guidance on health and environmental aspects applicable to desalinated water production, distribution and water quality.

Well-reasoned consensus water quality guidance should facilitate the installation of new facilities or upgrading of existing facilities by providing universally accepted quality goals and practical considerations.

The WHO Guidance on Desalination will be concerned with water, health and environmental quality issues that may be unique to desalination projects and it will supplement and be closely integrated with the main body of WHO Guidelines on Drinking-Water Quality.

Meetings of the Technical Committee

The first meeting of the Technical Committee for Development of WHO Guidance on Desalination for Safe Water Supply was held in Irvine, California, USA on 22-24 October 2004. The second meeting is scheduled for November 2005 in Kuwait.

Technical Committee

The Technical Committee consists of 5 work groups addressing different aspects of desalination

Group I: Technology-engineering and chemistry
Group II: Health-toxicology of contaminants and nutritional aspects
Group III: Sanitary and marine microbiology
Group IV: Monitoring - microbiological, analytical chemistry, surveillance, regulatory
Group V: Environmental effects and impact assessments

Group V: Environmental effects and impact assessments

The primary objective of Group V is to provide a guidance document for environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies of desalination plants. Besides environmental impacts, the guidance document will cover socio-economic and public health implications, and aspects of public perception and participation related to desalination.

© 2005 Sabine Lattemann
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