Due to the global challenge of water insecurity, desalination capacity in the world has grown in recent decades. At the same time, concerns over desalination’s detrimental environmental impact have increased. To evaluate the environmental impact of desalination, Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) are often conducted. Yet, the disparate array of LCA studies do not provide a systematic understanding of the underlying evidence related to specific environmental impacts of desalination. To fill this gap, we reviewed 38 studies with 295 LCA scenarios on desalination published from 2000 to 2018. This paper presents the scope of current research related to LCA methods, databases, and methods. We produced an evidence map to identify identified that maintenance and operation, treatment process, and the energy sector as the main contributors to negative environmental impacts as they relate to key life-cycle phases, the water cycle, and components such as energy, chemicals, and materials. Next, we compared the environmental impact of alternative options including water supply and technologies to reduce the environmental burden of desalination and found the possible future technology interventions for sustainable desalination. At the same time, we reveal that emerging technologies that aim to reduce energy consumption have the potential to increase other environmental burdens such as chemical usage. The systematic review provides an evidence-based framework for future research, which should consider the various impact categories, address gaps between the current studies and the real-world environmental concerns, evaluate social and economic impacts, and examine new and emerging technologies.
Kyungsun Lee, Wendy Jepson, (Accepted). “Environmental Impact of Desalination: A Systematic Review of Life Cycle Assessment ” Desalination.
Lee & Jepson (2021) Environmental Impact of Desalination: A Systematic Review of Life Cycle Assessment
Q-methodology is a mixed qualitative-quantitative method used to measure social perspectives on issues relating to sustainability and environmental governance in a systematic, replicable manner. Although its use grown over the past two decades, to date there has not been a comprehensive review of the environmental sustainability Q-methodology literature. Using bibliometric analysis and systematic review, this paper examines the rapid growth in published Q-methodology research on sustainable natural resource management and environmental governance. We analysed and iteratively coded 277 empirical Q-studies published between 2000-2018 to establish research trends, shared gaps, and best practices among environmental social science Q-researchers. We also conducted co-authorship and co-citation analyses to identify research clusters using Q-methodology. We find that, while Q-methodology uses a relatively standardized protocol, considerable heterogeneity persists across such domains as study design, p-set identification, concourse and Q-set development, analysis and interpretation. Further, we identify major reporting gaps among Q-methodology publications where researchers do not fully describe or justify subjective decision-making throughout the research process. The paper ends with recommendations for improving research reporting and increasing the circulation and uptake of up-to-date Q-methodology practices and innovations.
Sneegas et al. (2021) Using Q-methodology in environmental sustainability research: A bibliometric analysis and systematic review.
Water recycling has been offered as an important adaptation for urban water systems facing deficits due to climate change. While the volume of recycled water has increased exponentially since the 2000s, its integration into municipal supply has not reached its potential. To better understand the processes that influence its uptake, this paper synthesizes published research that describes and analyzes adoption of water reuse in urban areas globally. We identified 39 articles published between 2010 and 2019 which document drivers and barriers of water reuse for 54 urban areas in 20 countries. Evidence shows that external environmental shocks, like drought, may be a catalyst but a nexus of place-based factors combined with economic, regulatory and political alignment more likely foster systemic change in water systems.
Lee & Jepson (2020). Drivers and barriers to urban water reuse: A systematic review