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Mark Eisinger (Letters, August 25) argues that desalination plants produce brine that is polluting our coastal areas. Like many worried about desalination, he uses the term brine instead of “salt” which is the major component of the discharge from the process. A recent study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers demonstrated that this material can be mined for a number of valuable resources including salt, sodium hydroxide and minerals.
In the San Francisco Bay we have several thousand acres of former bay that has been used for salt pond collection since the 19th century. With an increase in desalination these ponds would be made obsolete (especially as extraction and preparation of the ponds is labour intensive) and the ponds could be restored as bay wildlife refuges.
We should think of the process of desalination as both a solution for water resource depletion and an opportunity to redesign present methods of salt sourcing.
Department of Anthropology
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA, US