Impacts of Seawater Desalination on Coastal Environments

Karen L. Petersen, Hila Frank, Adina Paytan, Edo Bar-Zeev

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Seawater reverse-osmosis desalination facilities discharge brine effluent with potential implications to the integrity of marine coastal environments. Typical desalination brine effluent consists of hypersaline seawater along with additional antiscalants and coagulants, which are often mixed with cooling water of adjacent power plants. The spatial distribution of the brine plume, namely, the perimeter, flow direction, and buoyancy, varies according to the volume and rate of discharge as well as the dispersion technology. In this chapter, we will present a comprehensive overview highlighting the environmental effects of brine effluent on various coastal species, including bacteria, zooplankton, seagrass, fish larvae, and corals. Recent studies have suggested that desalination brine effluent may alter the activity and diversity of bacteria and microalgae, reduce the abundance of meiofauna, as well as impact the physiology of seagrass meadows around the outfall site. Following this, we will discuss possible means and measures to monitor and minimize the interface of brine effluent with marine coastal biota.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Desalination Handbook
Subtitle of host publicationPlant Selection, Design and Implementation
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780128094969
ISBN (Print)9780128092408
StatePublished - 10 Mar 2018


  • Bacteria
  • Brine discharge
  • Brine effluent
  • Coastal biota
  • Corals
  • Fish larva
  • Meiofauna
  • Seagrass
  • Seawater desalination
  • Zooplankton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Environmental Science


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