Dear Cecil:

The main reason desalination of water is not common in the US is the cost. Whereas we pay in excess of a thousand dollars a year to heat and light our homes (not to mention run computers and charge batteries for our pocket Gameboys™), we pay around $50 to $100 per annum in most places for the privilege of taking 30-minute showers. Desalination would be expensive by comparison, making water a utility that would rival electricity in its cost. And while it is tempting to blame home-owners for being miserly when it comes to water cost, we should remember that up to as much as 85% of all water use is industrial, especially in states like California, where agriculture is irrigation driven. Obviously, any country that can accomplish such 1950’s Sci-fi wonders as a man on the moon, a space station, and instantaneous matter transmission (ok, well, 2 of 3 ain’t too bad!) could manage large-scale desalination of salt water. If we wish to encourage it, simply tax the current delivery methods.

And now we turn the topic over to the environmentalists who will start in on the destructive environmental costs of large-scale desalination…

To see desalinization at work right in the good ol’ USA, just take a trip to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. City water is provided by a desalinization plant billed as the “largest in the Western hemisphere”.

The only alternatives were capturing rainwater in cisterns (the normal method in outlying villages) or having the water shipped in.

The beaches and alcohol are also considered a draw.