As South Florida's increasing demand for drinking water continues to grow, some water utilities have turned to the use of brackish and saline water sources. Desalination removes dissolved salts in water to make it fit for human consumption, as well as irrigation, industrial use and other purposes. Membrane technology, such as reverse osmosis, is the most common method in Florida for treating saline water. Sources of saline water include brackish groundwater from the Floridan aquifer system and seawater from the ocean.
As of 2020, South Florida has 38 brackish and two seawater desalination plants operating. The brackish and seawater desalination plants have the capacity to produce 293 million gallons of potable water per day.
The cost of seawater desalination is still significantly higher than traditional treatments for brackish groundwater and had been considered too expensive for widespread use in Florida. However, costs have come down as the technology has become more efficient.
With the assistance of the South Florida Water Management District's Alternative Water Supply program, the number of desalination plants in South Florida has grown 82 percent since 2005 while the capacity of those plants water produced by these plants has increased 144 percent during the same period.
Please click on the following links for more information on desalination in South Florida: