I have a question I've always been curious about regarding the topic.
As I understand it, the desalination process is that they take the salt water, create usable water from it and then salt sludge is pumped back out into the ocean. When I've read about it an issue from this seems to be that the waste is bad to the ecosystem they pump it back into plus that extra salt can't be that good for the ocean as a whole and its inhabitants. I understand that one plant might not be that much of an impact on the ocean as a whole but if it became more standard and over 50yrs+, especially with the changing climate and droughts maybe it would and there are greater ecological issues.
My question is: Why can't they just pump the salt water into a designated area in the desert?
I live in California and we have plenty of desert and every time I head out toward Las Vegas or travel up north I think about this.
Why couldn't some chunk of land be allocated where raw salt water can be pumped into and then let it evaporate? Wouldn't that just generate more rain which, at least in the winter, create more snow pack in the mountains and help create drinking water more naturally? The salt and stuff left behind could just stay there and become a salt flat. At a minimum couldn't they process the water and then pump the sludge into the desert (the remaining water would still evaporate) and it seems to me that would be a better solution than putting it back into the ocean for it to have more salt.
If it could be done on a reasonable scale, maybe some land that was once unusable could be terraformed to forest which would help with the climate, pull carbon out of the air, and on a 5 or 10 year cycle the trees can be cut down made into mulch and then new ones planted... Not the salt water or land where the salt is left but additional land allocation for this (we do have a LOT of desert) and I know sand would need to be cultivated but we also have a lot of cows and organic material we can use to help convert the sand into more usable soil.
Running some pipes from a coast inland while posing some logistical challenge doesn't seem unreasonable to me. Better than oil pipelines...
Thanks for the responses