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Desalination as a method to supply fresh water to communities has been developing over the past decade and demand for such services is still increasing, Bloomberg BNA reported, citing results from a study published in the International Desalination Association's Journal of Desalination and Water Reuse.
Over the period between 2000 and 2010, the number of municipal desalination plants built in the United States was half the number of those built during the whole of the three previous decades, author of the research Mike Mickley stated. There were 324 desalination plants constructed between 1971 and 2010, with 117 of these built in the first decade of the 21st century. The figures include all U.S. municipal desalination plants with a minimum capacity of 25,000 gallons of potable water per day. If the number of industrial desalination plants was factored in, the total count would grow significantly as these outstrip municipal desalination projects.
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The key factors that have driven demand for desalination include developments in technology and a reduction in costs. At the same time, water scarcity in certain areas of the United States makes desalination the most viable solution to water supply issues, the research pointed out. However, most researchers, local water managers and government officials cite regulatory requirements as the main challenge for the industry.
According to 2011 figures from the International Desalination Association, the United States is the fourth largest market for desalination technologies, following only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Spain.