There’s not enough water in Texas. There’s not enough in East Africa and some other places, too. Climate change is being blamed for some of it. La Niña, specifically, is being blamed for what’s happening in Texas – and for what’s happening in the South Pacific. Several island nations in the region are having water shortages and trying to fend off a crisis. Tuvalu and parts of Samoa have begun water rationing. And the tiny nation of Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, has only a week’s worth of fresh drinking water left. The people who live there collect rainwater for drinking, but because of La Niña, there hasn’t been much rain. New Zealand is now in a joint humanitarian effort with the US government. A US Coast Guard vessel stationed in Honolulu met up with a New Zealand Defence Force aircraft on American Samoa to get water to Tokelau. The US Coast Guard cutter Walnut has used its onboard desalination plant to produce 136,000 liters of drinking water. International seagoing vessels typically have onboard desalination plants. Naval vessels, cruise ships, and privately owned vessels have them. Most US Navy ships use reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plants. In the RO process, pressurized seawater is filtered through a specialized semi-permeable membrane, which can remove about 99 By the way, governments and private concerns have been examining the prospect of offshore desalination vessels for years. (Everything’s on the table. There’s a lot of people – and people use a lot of water.) There’s much to consider, cost (including energy costs) and what to do with that brine you get from desalination being major questions. But there are people figuring it out.
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