Safe drinking water is not only a basic human need, it’s also a fundamental human right to have access to it, even in countries that don’t have this resource. Yet access to drinking water with good quality has been a global health concern that technologies have been developed in order to provide essential nutrient for humans because it’s a source of minerals and trace elements. Such technologies included seawater desalination plants and water purifiers that produce bottled drinking water.
In Saudi Arabia about 60% to 70% of the country’s water demand are met with the large supplies of desalinated water. Yet the demand for bottled water in The Kingdom has been increasing since 2005, which placed the country in the 12th position as one of the countries with the largest per capita consumption of bottled water. Although Saudi health authorities say that desalinated tap water is safe for drinking, citizens of Saudi Arabia chose to consume as much as 2.4 liters of bottled water in the same year.
Actually, the sale of bottled water in the kingdom increased significantly in relation to the boom of the country’s tourism industry. Hospitality and foodservice providers like restaurants and hotels offered them to customers and guest as part of their quality services, which contributed to the rising sales of bottled water products in important cities throughout the country.
Eventually as bottled water became an essential health product in the country’s retail market, which all the more drove growth in the industry. In time, a major consumer shift occurred in the bottled water market, as the product had more value when compared to other beverages particular the cold carbonated beverages.
What’s Wrong with Desalinated Drinking Water?
Majority of Saudi residents whose tap water supply comes from desalination plants prefer to drink bottled water, because of three critical issues: unpleasant taste and appearance as well as instability.
Although desalination has been tried and tested as an effective way of producing clean water derived from the sea, its quality as drinking water is questionable.
A report published by the World Health Organisation, pointed out that the first problem with desalinated water is that it has been stripped of important minerals, leaving it with a bitter taste. As a result, people drink less and resort to imbibing other types of fluid in order to satiate their thirst.
Fortunately, the supply of bottled drinking water in the Kingdom increased. Otherwise, poor water intakes especially in a country where the weather is arid and humid can lead to dehydration and other negative effects on the functions of body organs, including the workings of the immune system.
Another factor that affects not only the taste but also the appearance of water is its instability, in the sense that it reacts aggressively when it comes in contact with other materials. Corrosion occurs when desalinated water passes through water distribution and plumbing systems, as well as when stored in water tanks. The by-products of corrosion produce sediments that pose as contaminants in the desalinated water flowing out of taps or faucets.
Based on the executive summary published by the Pacific Institute, a non-profit research organization in Oakland, California that delves on fresh water conservation and security issues, desalination is also capable of introducing chemical and biological contaminants in the main water supply. The levels of which depends on the design and location of desalination plants.
The institute recommends that governments in countries that rely heavily on desalination should strictly monitor the operations of desalination plants to ensure the safety of the overall water systems. Moreover, embracing desalination as answer to water problems, requires using water storage vessels that meet international safety standards.
In Saudi Arabia, the best step to take to remove unwarranted elements is to have water tanks regularly cleaned by tank cleaning companies ( شركات تنظيف خزانات المياه بجدة ).