Over the years, desalination has become integral to water resources management, primarily in coastal semi-arid to arid regions. While desalinated seawater has mainly been supplied to municipal and high-revenue industries, the agriculture sector faces increasing irrigation demands, making it a potential user. This review assesses the sustainability of using desalinated seawater for irrigation, shedding light on its limitations and potential. Using desalinated water for irrigation presents challenges, including its high energy consumption, potential contribution to climate change, and agronomy-related concerns. However, evidence suggests that these challenges can be addressed effectively through tailor-fitted strategies. That said, conventional binary decision-making paradigms that label practices as good or bad and focus on a singular, isolated aspect are insufficient for evaluating the sustainability of desalination due to the complex and interconnected nature of the issues involved. To overcome this, the climate-water-energy-food (CWEF) nexus concept is proposed as a comprehensive framework for sustainability assessment. Adopting the CWEF nexus approach allows for a better understanding of the potential challenges associated with using desalinated water for irrigation, encompassing social, economic and environmental concerns. To ensure effective management of these challenges, it is crucial to tailor desalination projects to specific regional conditions and employ either prophylactic or corrective strategies. By embracing the CWEF nexus approach, informed decisions can be made regarding the future utilization of desalinated water for irrigation, contributing to broader sustainability goals.
Agricultural Water Management
Zolghadr-Asli, B., McIntyre, N., Djordjevic, S., Farmani, R., & Pagliero, L. (2023). The sustainability of desalination as a remedy to the water crisis in the agriculture sector: An analysis from the climate-water-energy-food nexus perspective. Agricultural Water Management, 286, 108407.
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