With a growing world population and changing patterns of global precipitation, researchers are examining a number of options in the management and supply of fresh water to areas where the demand for fresh water is outstripping local availability. These options include bulk water exports as well as the establishment of desalination plants. This paper argues that three key factors will determine the possibility of such trade. These factors are: (a) the travelling distance of the marine vessels from the fresh water source to the population, (b) the cost of capital and (c) the average expected utilization rate of local desalination plant. It concludes that the supply of bulk water transported by single hulled marine vessels is economically viable if the distance is less than 548 miles (884 km). For greater distances, the cost of drinking water production using desalination technology is cost effective. In any case the supply of these single hulled marine vessels is limited, as new ones are unlikely to be built for water only. Thus local communities are unlikely to lose control over water resources owing to export trade.
Research Article|June 01 2005