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Salt contamination from industrial wastewater can change the water chemistry of aquatic ecosystems and have a negative effect on the species that live there. Treating the water can reduce those impacts.

Sustainable solutions can reverse the trend of salt pollution’s devastating effects on freshwater ecosystems

Many headwater streams in the United States are becoming increasingly saltier, contaminated by mining, wastewater discharge, agricultural runoff, and urbanization. This salinization is changing the water chemistry of these freshwater systems and is having a negative impact on the aquatic species that live there. Seemingly small changes in these sensitive ecosystems can have a broad environmental impact.

Researchers from Virginia Tech have received funding from the National Science Foundation to assess the impacts that changes in salinity could have on aquatic food webs in headwater streams in the Appalachian Mountains. The region’s freshwater systems are home to more than 10,000 aquatic species, many of them endemic. Headwater streams in the region are vulnerable to salinization from extensive coal-mining activities, which threaten the rich biodiversity these ecosystems support.

These aquatic organisms form part of an intricate food web that transforms and transfers carbon and other nutrients from nearby forests and play a vital role in breaking down plant matter. An increase in salt levels could make these aquatic systems uninhabitable for many of the native species, jeopardizing their existence as well as others in the food web. The good news is that there are effective ways to reduce the salt levels.

Targeting the Source of Salt Contamination

The most effective way to reduce the impact of salinization on waterways is to target the source of the pollution.

Fluence offers cost-effective brine-reduction solutions for sustainably treating and disposing of brine water for a reduced impact on the environment. Fluence’s brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) advanced desalination technologies can remove salt, together with a wide range of other common contaminants, from mining effluent.

Fluence also offers advanced industrial water treatment solutions for further refining treated water. Continuous electrodeionization (CEDI) technology can produce ultrapure water or demineralized industrial process water suitable for use as boiler or cooling water, or for other industrial process applications where high-quality water is needed.

Unlike conventional electrodeionization (EDI) technologies, which use mixed-bed deionization techniques and chemicals to initiate the ion exchange process, Fluence’s CEDI technology uses resin, electricity and ion-exchange membranes to deionize water, removing the impurities from it.

CEDI technologies offer a cost-effective solution for transforming water with a high salt concentration into high-quality water that can be used for industrial process water. This saves on disposal costs, reduces the demand on freshwater supplies, and reduces the environmental impacts associated with pollution and overuse of freshwater resources.

Contact Fluence to learn more about our brine-reduction solutions and the cost and environmental benefits they offer.

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