Designing water supplies: Optimizing drinking water composition for maximum economic benefit

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It is possible to optimize drinking water composition based on a valuation of the impacts of changed water quality. This paper introduces a method for assessing the potential for designing an optimum drinking water composition by the use of membrane desalination and remineralization. The method includes modeling of possible water quality blends and an evaluation of corrosion indices. Based on concentration-response relationships a range of impacts on public health, material lifetimes and consumption of soap have been valued for Perth, Western Australia and Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to water quality aspects, costs of water production, fresh water abstraction and CO2-emissions are integrated into a holistic economic assessment of the optimum share of desalinated water in water supplies. Results show that carefully designed desalination post-treatment can have net benefits up to €0.3 ± 0.2 per delivered m3 for Perth and €0.4(±0.2) for Copenhagen. Costs of remineralization and green house gas emission mitigation are minor when compared to the potential benefits of an optimum water composition. Finally, a set of optimum water quality criteria is proposed for the guidance of water supply planning and management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)3712-3722
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Cost
  • Remineralization
  • Corrosion
  • Desalination
  • Health
  • Water quality


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