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Database of Permitting for Seawater Concentrate Disposal

Date: November 12, 2015

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Related Research: Project 13-07

The recently completed WateReuse Research Foundation project “Database of Permitting Practices for Seawater Desalination Concentrate” could benefit both the utility and regulatory communities in the United States in bringing clarity to the permitting process and issues associated with the construction of desalination plants. Specifically, the study identified the discharge information that permitting agencies need and the decision-making process they go through to permit discharge methods in order to help desalination project proponents focus and expedite their permitting efforts.

More specifically, the project involved documenting SWRO discharge regulatory issues and providing critical overview of facility discharge-related information required for permitting desalination projects in the United States and selected countries with advanced environmental regulations and experience in implementing seawater desalination projects.

The project focused on the most commonly used SWRO concentrate management method of surface water discharge.  Information was gathered from the three key U.S. states (California, Florida, and Texas) where interest in SWRO desalination has been highest. Due to the more extensive international experience with SWRO desalination, information was also obtained from Australia, Israel, and Spain – all countries of significant recent large-scale SWRO desalination project permitting and full-scale experience.  Case studies of 11 SWRO plants and analysis of regulatory systems and permitting processes supported detailed definition of the decision-making process to set discharge permit limits as well as to define environmental and other regulatory issues associated with concentrate regulation.


Dr. Michael Mickley, PE, PhD (Chemical Engineering) President (Mickley & Associates, LLC), has been working in the field of desalination technology since 1966.  Since 1990 most of the focus has been in the area of concentrate/brine management.  Several projects have involved site-specific evaluation of treatment and disposal options as a consultant to major engineering companies.  More recent international efforts have addressed challenges in Oman, U.A.E. South Africa, Australia, and Sweden involving ZLD processing with associated salt recovery.  Research projects have been funded by Water Research Foundation (formerly AwwaRF), Bureau of Reclamation, Office of Naval Research, and WateReuse Research Foundation (WRRF) – all addressing various concentrate/brine management issues. Dr. Mickley is a member or the technical advisory group of O2 Environmental, in international water technology marketing intelligence company.  He has given countless presentations and is an internationally recognized expert in concentrate/brine management. Dr. Mickley is on the editorial board of Desalination and Water Treatment and reviews articles for Desalination Journal.

Mr. Nikolay Voutchkov, PE, BCEE President (Water Globe Consulting, LLC), has over 25 years of experience in the field of desalination and water reuse, and currently works as an independent technical advisor to public utilities implementing large desalination projects in Australia, USA, and the Middle East; and to private companies and investors involved in the development of advanced membrane technologies.  He has extensive expertise with all phases of project delivery: from conceptual scoping, pilot testing and feasibility analysis; to front-end and detailed project design; permitting; contractor procurement; project construction and operations oversight/asset management.  For over 11 years prior to establishing his project advisory firm, Mr. Voutchkov was a Chief Technology Officer and Corporate Technical Director for Poseidon Resources, a private company involved in the development of the largest seawater desalination projects in the USA. Mr. Voutchkov has published over 30 technical articles and co-authored 9 books on membrane water treatment and desalination, including technology and design guidelines for the American Water Works Association and the Australian Water Association.  In recognition of his outstanding efforts in the field of seawater desalination, Mr. Voutchkov has received a number of prestigious awards from the WateReuse Research Association, the International Desalination Association, the International Water Association, and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.

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