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In much of the planet, in places like the Middle East, fresh water, scarce as it is, is a luxury for many people. Desalination of seawater helps people and communities cope with this reality.
The problem is that desalination often comes with considerable environmental impacts. There are about 16,000 desalination plants across the planet and together they pump 142 million cubic meters of salty brine every day to produce 95 million cubic meters of fresh water, according to a recent UN-sponsored study.