Desalting of Saline Waters -- Applications to New Mexico


Diminishing fresh water supplies in parts of New Mexico have sparked an interest in desalting of saline ground waters and oil field produced waters to supplement fresh water supplies. This paper briefly discusses desalination processes that have achieved commercial success around the world that might be used in New Mexico. These include multi-stage flash distillation, multiple effect distillation, vapor compression, electrodialysis, and reverse osmosis. Other minor processes include freezing, membrane distillation, and solar humidification. Brackish water desalination typically costs between $1.00 and $2.40 per thousand gallons, and seawater desalination typically costs between $0.80 and $12.00 per 1,000 gal of fresh water. In New Mexico in 2001, 26,862,407,960 gal of oil and gas field produced water were pumped out of the ground. If desalted and treated to standards for human consumption or other purposes, this produced water would contribute to solving future water supply problems in New Mexico. However, the dissolved hydrocarbons in this water presently make desalination difficult. Research into solving desalination problems pertinent to New Mexico is ongoing and will undoubtedly see both successes and failures in the next decade or two.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Desalination; Groundwater Resource; Water Supply; New Mexico; North America; United States

Geographic Coverage

New Mexico

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2003 New Mexico Bureau of Mines & Mineral Resources, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2003


Article Location