Water scarcity, a typical impact of climate change, affects at least 10.4% of the EU territory and 14.3% of the EU population, mainly in Southern Europe. Desalination, which is being applied in 150 countries, is one of the most common solutions explored for addressing the problem, with over 18,500 desalination plants producing freshwater from seawater and brackish water. It is one of the technologies, according to the Spanish Law RD1627, to obtain reclaimed water. However, the technology raises environmental concerns relating to residual brine, which can comprise up to 25% of the collected water. Brine has high salinity and contains potential contaminants, such as pathogens and nitrates from agricultural and other human activities.
The LIFE project LIFE-DESIROWS aims to test a self-sufficient energy technology that eliminates brine from water desalination processes by means of crystallisation of salts. The aim is to improve the quality of the reclaimed water for use by the agricultural sector at an affordable price, while eliminating discharges into the Mar Menor Coastal Lagoon protected area. The goal is to decrease the negative impact of the pollutants on the fauna and flora ecosystems in the area. It also aims to recycle brine salts for use as fertilisers and road de-icing. Furthermore, the project will promote the technology among the main target stakeholders and define its potential replicability and transferability.