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The reverse osmosis system desalinates 3,600 gal of seawater per day
On Utrik, a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands, the region's first permanent solar and wind-powered water desalination plant is staving off the effects of a yearlong, region-wide drought.
In May 2010, Tom Vance of Moana Marine LLC installed two Spectra LB-1800 reverse osmosis desalination systems, which convert seawater into 3,600 gal per day of clean drinking water. Without the water from the desalination systems, life would be impossible for Utrik's 485 residents.
A typical desalinating plant of this size would be powered by a diesel generator, but outer island fuel prices have averaged eight to ten dollars per gallon, and this would mean $30,000 to $75,000 per year in fuel costs. The fuel expense with the Spectra units is zero, and the installation has paid for itself in fuel savings alone.
Local technicians, trained by Vance, maintain the installation: "The Utrik technicians are doing a great job," says Vance, "They value the water treatment facility and are devoted to the operation and maintenance of the machines."
Fuel prices are now soaring to $15 per gallon, and the supply is unreliable. The only way to assure consistent, affordable water on a remote island is with alternative energy and reverse osmosis desalination systems. Spectra uses proprietary energy-recovery pumps, making their systems the most energy-efficient in the industry, and therefore the best for solar and wind-powered installations.
With more drought and water crises predicted for the area, Utrik remains a model for drought preparedness and safe, sustainable water production in the Pacific Island region.