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Our water supply is one of our most endangered natural resources. Because an estimated 97 percent of all the earth's water is found in oceans and two percent is frozen in ice caps and glaciers, only one percent is available for drinking.

To establish a safe drinking water supply for years to come, American Water is tapping into our oceans and seas. As operator of the country's largest seawater desalination plant in Tampa, Florida, and a pilot plant in the making in Monterey, California, we are helping to ensure the safe and environmentally sound conversion of ocean water to drinking water.

Particulates are removed from seawater and the desalination process removes dissolved contaminants including salt , making it potable. At our Tampa plant, we convert seawater to drinking water through the reverse osmosis process. In reverse osmosis, pumping energy moves seawater through a series of filtering membranes with pores that let water molecules permeate but don't allow salt and pollutants through. Following desalination, the water is disinfected and the mineral content is adjusted prior to distribution to customers.

Desalination is not a modern science. The distillation process – which uses evaporation to separate impurities, such as salt, from water – is one of humankind's earliest forms of water treatment and is still a popular treatment solution throughout the world today. In ancient times, many civilizations used distillation on their ships to convert sea water to drinking water. Today, reverse osmosis is used on cruise ships as well as municipal applications where other water supplies are scarce or non-existent.

Learn more about desalination by reading the following white paper, Innovation Solutions Within The Water Industry: Desalination.