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The Desalination and Water Purification Research & Development Program Newsletter - No. 25 - Spring 2003


As you know, Federal resources are increasingly strained. Therefore, we are happy to announce that our Desalination and Water Purification Research & Development Program (DWPR) authorization has been extended through fiscal year (FY) 2004. For FY03 we will have approximately $1,000,000 for award of fiscal year cost-shared financial assistance agreements (see Request below).

Desalting technologies offer the unique ability, over conventional technologies, to increase the total amount of "drought proof" water available for consumers. DWPR is the only Federally-funded, applied research and development (R&D) program directed toward reducing the cost of desalting technologies to increase municipal, industrial, agricultural, and recreational water supplies in the U.S. Other Federal agencies (e.g. Department of Defense) perform desalting R&D to meet mission specific needs (e.g. providing water for troops). The private sector conducts limited, incremental R&D to support product application, manufacturing, and sales. Research institutions conduct R&D in specific areas (e.g. reuse) but desalting may not be the main goal. Universities perform some basic research leading to proof of concept as well as cooperative research with governments and industry.

With respect to type of desalting application, DWPR past and current research efforts can be broken down as follows:

  • A total of 84 cost-shared financial assistance agreements have been awarded across the U.S.
  • Approximately 39 of these projects (46%) have some applicability to both seawater and impaired water desalination.
  • About 26 projects (31%) are related specifically to impaired water applications.
  • About 14 projects (17%) are related specifically to seawater applications.
  • About 5 projects (6%) are related directly to recycling or reuse systems with a desalting component.

DWPR research projects have occurred in: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, North Carolina, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. DWPR has also worked with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL).

University research projects comprise a major share of DWPR funding, along with the private sector, research institutions, and local and state water organizations. DWPR has conducted 42 research projects (50%) with university partners. Typically, this research is competed and merit reviewed with a principal investigator from the university as the project lead. Overall, universities have proven to be a valuable resource for innovative technology development. Agreements have been awarded to the following universities: Arizona State University, City College of the City of New York, Colorado School of Mines, Illinois Institute of Technology, Montana State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, New Mexico State University, Northern Arizona University, Oregon Health & Science University. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rice University, Texas A&M, University of Arizona, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Delaware, University of Denver, University of Illinois, University of Nevada-Reno, University of Texas-El Paso, University of North Carolina, University of North Dakota, University of South Carolina, University of South Florida, Utah State University, and Yale University.

For more information, contact program manager, Tom Jennings, (303) 445-2130, or visit us at DWPR.


The FY03 DWPR request for proposal process continues. The request for pre-proposals closed on January 15, 2003. Many highly interesting and technologically valuable proposals were received. Pre-proposals were received in all solicited task areas including research and studies, pilot-scale systems, and demonstration projects. Those pre-proposals evaluated as most significantly meeting the needs of the program received letters encouraging submission of full proposals. DWPR thanks all pre-proposers for their interest in our program.

Now that DWPR funding is appropriated, the full proposal packages are available and may be obtained at our website . Reference either (1) task areas A, B, C, E, & F for research and studies or (2) task G for testing of pilot-scale systems. Due to limited resources, funding for design, construction, and testing of plants and modules, task area I, will not be possible. Parties without Internet access can request the full proposal packages in writing by facsimile to (303) 445-6345 or by e-mail to Randy Jackson. Telephone requests will not be honored. Proposals are due on June 16, 2003. Submission of a pre-proposal is not required in order to submit a full proposal.


As indicated, access to freshwater is an increasingly critical national and international issue as demand has outstripped supply in many regions of the world, including parts of the U.S. Degradation of water supplies resulting from population growth, pollution, and lack of coordinated management often compounds this pervasive water availability issue. In order to maintain economic development, improve standards of living and health, and minimize future regional and international conflicts, our nation will need to develop sustainable supplies of high-quality water for drinking and other uses. This requires the development of innovative and cost-effective methods to improve water management, water use and reuse, as well as novel technologies that can "create" freshwater from non-traditional sources.

In keeping with Reclamation's mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources, in 2001, Congress directed Reclamation to partner with SNL to develop a desalination technology research plan for the U.S. Reclamation and SNL formed a multi-disciplinary committee of representatives from academia and the public, private, and non-profit sectors to develop the desalination technology research plan. As a result, The Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap: A Report of the Executive Committee (Roadmap) was published in January 2003. The Roadmap presents a summary of the water supply challenges facing our nation through 2020, and suggests areas of R&D that may lead to technological solutions to these challenges. The Roadmap may be used as a planning tool to facilitate science and technology investment decisions and as a management tool to help structure the selection of desalination research, development, and demonstration projects - to ensure research efforts are coordinated and complementary.

The guiding vision for the Roadmap:
By 2020, desalination and water purification technologies will contribute significantly to ensuring a safe, sustainable, affordable, and adequate water supply for our nation

Concurrent with its release, Reclamation contracted with the National Research Council's (NRC) Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) to evaluate the Roadmap. The NRC was organized by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1916. The NAS is a private, non-profit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. The NAS was chartered by Congress in 1863, and has a mandate that requires it to advise the Federal government on scientific and technical matters. The WSTB will provide an unbiased review of the Roadmap in hopes of validating the report's science and technology investment decisions and the recommended research projects. Specifically, the evaluation will address the following:

  1. Does the Roadmap present an appropriate and effective course for addressing the nation's water needs?
  2. Will further investments advance the implementation of desalination by reducing its cost and addressing issues associated with its use?
  3. Does the Roadmap correctly identify the key technical and scientific issues that must be resolved so that desalination can be made cost-effective?
  4. Are there any missing research areas that ought to be addressed?
  5. What should be the investment priorities?
  6. What are the best roles for the Federal agencies, national laboratories, and other research institutions, utilities, and the private sector?

The evaluation process began on January 1, 2003, and will be completed by December 31, 2003. There will be two principal products of the evaluation: (1) a brief interim "letter" report providing an initial assessment including the Roadmap's potential use in helping set Federal investment priorities, and (2) a final report addressing all six evaluation items, briefings, and other dissemination activities.

To complement the overall evaluation process, a public meeting - that will include a series of presentations on the development of the Roadmap and other on-going and planned desalination activities in the U.S. - will be held on May 13, 2003, from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm in the Kokopelli Room at the Table Mountain Inn, 1310 Washington Ave., Golden, CO, 80401. Public attendance and participation in the review process is welcomed and encouraged.

We expect the Roadmap to be a living document. The WSTB evaluation and recommendations will ensure that the Roadmap is scientifically defensible, comprehensive, and focused. Future updates will ensure it remains current and relevant.


Water from Water is published by Reclamation's Water Treatment Engineering and Research Group - Susan Martella, Editor. For more information about the DWPR program, contact Kevin Price at: Bureau of Reclamation, 86-69000, PO Box 25007, Denver CO 80225; phone (303) 445-2260; or e-mail a message to MPrice@usbr.gov.