Researchers at UCLA recognize the world water crisis is not just affecting third world countries, but California is also at risk.
Concern over access to clean water is no longer just an issue for the developing world, as California faces its worst drought in recorded history. According to state’s Department of Water Resources, supplies in major reservoirs and many groundwater basins are well below average. Court-ordered restrictions on water deliveries have reduced supplies from the two largest water systems, and an outdated statewide water system can’t keep up with population growth.
Desalination is often cited as a solution to the growing scarcity of freshwater in coastal communities, but it is costly. One area of great expense is testing out pilot facilities, but researchers at UCLA have developed a solution: the Mini-Mobile-Modular (M3). According to Alex Bartman, a graduate student on the UCLA M3 team:
Our M3 water desalination system provides an all-in-one mobile testing plant that can be used to test almost any water source. The advantages of this type of system are that it can cut costs, and because it is mobile, only one M3 system needs to be built to test multiple sources. Also, it will give an extensive amount of information that can be used to design the larger-scale desalination plant.
UCLA is calling the M3 a “major breakthrough with water desalination system”. Researchers also believe the M3 could be dispatched for use in emergency situations to provide fresh water. The systems is small enough to be “transported anywhere in the back of a van” and is capable of producing “6,000 gallons of drinking water per day from the sea or 8,000 to 9,000 gallons per day from brackish groundwater”.
Providing emergency water and testing out locations for desalination plants are two functions the M3 serves that may or may not turn out to be a major breakthrough.