high-risk research that may not be attempted by the private sector and that is in the public interest. Investigator-driven research should be permitted throughout the proposal process.

Research cannot address all barriers to increased application of desalination technology in regions facing water scarcity concerns; thus, practical desalination implementation issues that pertain to water providers are discussed in Chapter 7. Recommendations in Chapter 7 include building trust and educating the public on desalination project planning, anticipating the sometimes cumbersome regulatory and permitting process, and utilizing pilot testing to optimize the process design.


The potential for desalination to meet anticipated water demands in the United States is constrained not by the source water resources or the capabilities of current technology, but by a variety of financial, social, and environmental factors. Substantial uncertainty remains about the environmental impacts of desalination, and resolving these uncertainties and developing methods to mitigate the impacts is the highest priority for future research. Research and development also are needed to continue current trends in reducing the process costs of desalination and developing cost-effective, environmentally sustainable approaches for concentrate management. Implementing the proposed research agenda will require federal leadership and a coordinated, strategic plan among multiple agencies. In addition, the success of the research agenda will depend on participation by federal, state, local agencies, nongovernmental entities, and the private sector.

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