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Brine Disposal Options for Desalination of Water

Describe about the Brine Disposal Options For Water Desalination In The Nap Region.

Due to explosive increase in the population of the world with socio-economic development leads to increase in demand of water. Breunig et al. (2013) stated that the shortage of water is one of the greatest problems within the modern society.Desalination of the seawater is best way to supply of water to the population of the world, but extensive discharge of brine affects the marine biota. Barronet al. (2015) opined that desalination of the seawater is an option to raise the water quantity, which are required for the agricultural purposes in NAP region. This literature review is based on brine disposal options for desalination of water within the NAP region. Dawoudet al. (2012) cited that reserve osmosis is used in order to treat the water for the agricultural applications. It removes the salts from the seawater. The technique of reverse osmosis produces a stream of high purity water that is defined as brine. The purpose of this study is to identify the brine disposal options for water desalination within NAP region and respective gaps in the options. This study is conducted to prevent threats of resource sustainability and satisfy requirements to raise the production as well as delivery of potable water. Therefore, the government is focused on desalination across the region, making of enormous treatment and generates demand for worldwide knowledge with current advanced technologies.

Horticulture in the Northern Adelaide Plains (NAP) is unique in that it is the largest covered cropping region in Australia. Desalination of plant affects the environment by returning to high level of temperature concentrated brine to sea. Morilloet al. (2013) indicated that the level of vulnerability of environment to salinity changes from position to position. Another impact of the environment regulations and EPA standards are that when various products are used within chemical cleaning of membranes as well as cleaning are likely of inside the sea. The products are restricted within desalination brine, therefore probable negative impacts from disposing of brine within sea are offered if the brine is composed as well as elated to saltworks. Brine requires accurate disposal, there are many brine disposal methods, which are available, and it consists of various environmental as well as capital costs (Burnet al. 2015). The following are the brine disposal options for desalination of the water in the NAP region.

Surface Water Discharge

2.1 Surface water discharge

In some of the cases, the brine is being discharged to the surface water bodies like river as well as lakes. Gilronet al. (2016) stated that it is a low cost solution for the purpose of desalination of water within the NAP region. This brine disposal method is used to regulate point as well as non-point pollution sources to the surface waters. This method makes sure that the water is being treated accurately as well as residual wastes are being reused properly. This brine disposal permits to be carried out by “National pollutant discharge elimination systems (NPDES)”.

Deep-water injection well

Brine is being injected into the subsurface formation of rock. It is a high cost solution as the cost for drilling as well as maintenance of well is high. This deep-water injection method is also termed as brine disposal. Bamagaet al. (2016) stated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates this injection well. The construction of well is dependent on the injection fluid injected as well as depth of injection zone. The deep-water injection well is intended in order to inject hazards as well as carbon dioxide deep under the surface of the Earth (Sanchez, Nogueiraand Kalid 2015).This brine disposal method is to be used on geological circumstances within the region (Barronet al. 2013).The permission of this method is to be taken by underground injection control.

Evaporation Pond

Brine is collected within the surface impoundment that allows the brine to focus as the water is evaporated into the atmosphere. For this disposal method, there are no such federal permit is required. Pérez-Gonzálezet al. (2012) opined that in some of the states, there are requirement of monitoring. From many centuries, evaporation pond is used in order to generate of salt. For the brine disposal, the evaporation of ponds are required to focus on the brine causing rainfall of crystals of salt as the solubility limit is to be attained. Morilloet al. (2013) argued that the factors those are influencing the efficiency of this method are depth of pond as well as surface area. The issues, which are related to evaporation pond, are leakage of the pond. There is leakage within the pond, then it consequences in outflow of brine contaminants into contiguous groundwater.

 Land application

 For the storage and disposal of the brine water, one of the best alternatives is use of it in the agricultural lands.  In the specific regions of the country where the grass or the trees are very salt tolerant the brine water can be used to water them.   Al-Karaghouli and Kazmerski(2013) stated that this disposal process is based on some certain considerations, which are, the concentration of the salt and chemical are suitable enough to avoid the contamination of the ground water and soil of that region. Metkeet al. (2016) opined that the level of the chemical and the salt are indicated by the ground water salinity and vegetation tolerance. While using the brine water for irrigation, it must be ensured that, at the time of heavy rainfall or floods some other disposal methods are available for the brine water as the flow of the rainfall along with the brine water can cause the adverse effects on the wetlands that are beneficial for habitat development.

Deep-Water Injection Well

Before disposal of the brine water in the agricultural lands the site must be selected depending on certain factors, like pre application treatment of the selected land, land requirements for minerals, surface runoff rate, vegetation at the selected land and lastly the hydraulic loading rate.Sanchez, Nogueiraand Kalid(2015) cited that in addition to that, the brine water can be injected inside a natural underground structure which is isolated from the other parts geologically. This will help the disposal of the brine water inside the land without contaminating the   groundwater that can be used as the drinking water and in agricultural lands. Aghdamet al.(2016) stated that as this alternative requires least annual cost, therefore it is considered as the least expensive brine water disposal method. The contaminants in the brine water helps in removing the ions, salts and heavy metals in the solution.  At last the contaminants ends up as a land fill in the wetland areas.  Dawoudet al. (2012) demonstrated that this method is also considered as the environment friendly way of disposing the brine water since it does not require a huge power source for disposing the brine water. While considering this as a viable solution for the brine disposal, it is important to take note that, for disposing the brine in the lands, the area must be big enough so that, the flow of the brine should not affect the people around that area.

Sanchez, Nogueiraand Kalid(2015) opined that the sewage discharge of the brine water is another efficient method that utilizes the existing infrastructure of any region. Moreover, the concentration of the ions and mineral salts in the brines water also gets diluted if it is discharged in the sewage treatment plan. At the same time it is also important to keep in mind that, it can cause the growth of the bacteria in the sewage system as the brine is helpful in developing environment that helps in the growth of the bacteria. In addition to this, this will increase the load for the existing sewage treatment plan due to the included ions and metals.  Even though it is a viable option for disposal of the Brine water, but before the disposal, it is important to take care of the following factors, volume and composition of the brine that is going to be discharged, possible impact of the brine on the treatment plan. As an example it is seen that, due to the excessive discharge of the Brine water in the sewage system causes the precipitation of the calcium carbonate on the filters of the treatment plan.

Evaporation Pond

In some cases it is observed that, the discharge of the Brine solution can reduce the biological oxygen demand (BOD) in case of the waste water that is beneficial in most of the circumstances. In case of the Valley of sun, the sewage discharge is used for disposal of the brine. 

 Dust control

The use of the brine solution for controlling the dust is considered as the cost effective, legal and efficient way in different countries of the world. It is a cost effective solution for controlling the dust as it available for much lesser price compared to the road salts (Boskoet al. 2014).  Brackish water or the brine water delivered from oil and gas wells and different sources, for example, brine treatment plants and wells can be utilized as a dust suppressant and street stabilizer on unpaved secondary streets. The brine in the wets the roads and binds the tiny soil particles with each other, which intern helps in reduces the formation of the dust. Only exception in this method is the brine generated from the shale formation process cannot be used as a dust suppressant on the roads. Codayet al.(2014) stated that before spreading the brine on the roads as a suppressant, it is important to ensure that, there is no water body near the road, as the brine will get flowed away with the water of rain.   In this context it is also suggested that, the brine should not be spread in the rainy season or on the wet roads, as it can flow away to the water bodies near the road and contaminate it. This may affect the food chain in that region. While spreading the brine in a region the following factors must be analyzed to avoid any adverse effects.

The Brine must not contain hydrogen sulphide(H2S) because it can be hazardous to human health.

The best brine solution according to different researchers is the one that contains calcium and magnesium concentration more than 10000 milligram per liter (Al-Karaghouli and Kazmerski 2013).Another is chloride solution having concentration more than 75000 milligram/liter.

Brine that is going to be used for dust control must be free of oil and sludge or any surface water.

The application of the brine on the roads for controlling the dust must be done in a way such that, it have minimal impact on the environment.

In order to have less impact on the environment it is suggested to use spreader nozzle rather than valves (Boskoet al. 2014).

Land Application

The brine is a waste rather than a product, therefore if applied without discrimination this disposal method also can contaminate the soil and ground water level.

De-icing agent

This brine disposal option is used at the months in winter in order to suppress the ice on the roads. It has power to low the freezing point of the water and then it prevents the bond between the ice as well as surface of road (Aghdamet al. 2016).It is less costly method. It is one of the alternative methods of road ice.

Brine disposal option

Technology used

Benefits and its constraints

Requirement of permits


Operating cost

Surface water discharge

·         Direct disposal to the surface water like lakes, rivers etc.

·         Requires low cost of capital

·         Requires detailed analysis to get permit from the state agency (Codayet al. 2014)

·         Permission from “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System”

Water energy


Deep water injection well

·   The brine is being injected into the subsurface formation of the rock (Al-Karaghouli and Kazmerski 2013).

·         Economy of scale.

·         Even site evaluation is also required.

·         There is high cost of capital.

·         Permission from “Underground Injection Control”

Natural energy (fluid and expansion of rock)


Evaporation pond

·   Utilization of solar energy in order to reduce water content into brine solution

·      It is reliable.

·      It requires mechanical equipments to dispose the waste (Boskoet al. 2014).

·   Some of the states are required to monitor.

Thermal energy


Land application

·         To dilute the brine sprayed into the land

·         It consists of backup disposal method.

·         With the sanitary water, there is high growth of vegetarian.

·      It requires monitoring.

Renewable energy


Sewer discharge

·   Direct disposal to the system such as sanitary sewer (Metkeet al. 2016)

·               Cost effective method.

·               Less permitting time to take

·               Fee is required for the purpose of brine disposal (Anget al. 2015).

·         Requirement of “Industrial Waste Discharge”

Water energy


Dust control

·         The brine disposal is required when there is a requirement for dust control.

·         Requires small land for disposal of brine for desalination of water

·         Some of the states are required to monitor (Ibanezet al. 2013).

Mechanical energy


De-icing agent

·      The brine is to be disposed at the month of winter.

·         It is less costly.

·   It requires permission by the state.

Solar energy


The following are some of the brine disposal technologies in other countries such as:

Membrane distillation:It is an osmosis driven distillation technology. This technology gives barrier to the liquid phase and it allows the vapour phase to pass throughout the pores of membrane (Doornbuschet al. 2016).It is of lower cost as well as energy use. The approximate cost of Membrane distillation is around $625.

Capacitive deionization:It is a technology in order to deionizer the water by applying electrical probable difference over two absorbent carbon electrodes. This method is basically used for desalination of brackish water with low level of moderate concentration of salt. It is an energy efficient technology (Boskoet al. 2014). It removes the salt ions from the surface of water and it extracts the water from the solution of water. It is of high cost such as it costs between $3000 and 4000.

Wind Aided Intensified Evaporation:Due to increase in the shortage of water, there is brackish water, and this method is used for brine disposal of the desalination of water (Aghdamet al. 2016). Its limitations are cost as well as technical feasibility for the purpose of concentrate disposal. Its cost of capital is approximately 5.5 percent.


It is concluded that the most of the brine disposal methods mentioned are used in Australia for desalination of water. The methods used are surface water discharge, deep well injection well, evaporation pond, sewer discharge as well as land application. In the future, the brine disposal plants should adopt of new technology for brine disposal. The mentioned disposal methods are used to increase brine volume. It resulted into increase in irrigation demand of water within NAP region.


Aghdam, M.A., Zraick, F., Simon, J., Farrell, J. and Snyder, S.A., 2016. A novel brine precipitation process for higher water recovery. Desalination, 385, pp.69-74.

Al-Karaghouli, A. and Kazmerski, L.L., 2013. Energy consumption and water production cost of conventional and renewable-energy-powered desalination processes. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 24, pp.343-356.

Sewer Discharge

Ang, W.L., Mohammad, A.W., Hilal, N. and Leo, C.P., 2015. A review on the applicability of integrated/hybrid membrane processes in water treatment and desalination plants. Desalination, 363, pp.2-18.

Bamaga, O.A., Al-Sharif, S.F., Balkhair, K.S., Gzara, L. and Albeirutty, M., 2016. Improvement of urban water cycle and mitigation of groundwater table rise through advanced membrane desalination of shallow urban brackish groundwater of Jeddah basin. Desalination and Water Treatment, 57(1), pp.124-135.

Barron, O., Ali, R., Hodgson, G., Smith, D., Qureshi, E., McFarlane, D., Campos, E. and Zarzo, D., 2015. Feasibility assessment of desalination application in Australian traditional agriculture. Desalination, 364, pp.33-45.

Barron, O.V., Ali, R., Hodgson, G., Smith, D., Qureshi, M.E., McFarlane, D., Burn, S., Kumar, A., Campos, E., Olewniak, F. and Zarzo, D., 2013. National and regional assessment of opportunities for desalination in Australian agriculture. Technical Report to National Centre of Excellence in Desalination in Australia, CSIRO Flagship Water for a Healthy Country, Australia.

Bosko, M.L., Rodrigues, M.A.S., Ferreira, J.Z., Miró, E.E. and Bernardes, A.M., 2014. Nitrate reduction of brines from water desalination plants by membrane electrolysis. Journal of Membrane Science, 451, pp.276-284.

Breunig, H.M., Birkholzer, J.T., Borgia, A., Oldenburg, C.M., Price, P.N. and McKone, T.E., 2013. Regional evaluation of brine management for geologic carbon sequestration. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 14, pp.39-48.

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Coday, B.D., Xu, P., Beaudry, E.G., Herron, J., Lampi, K., Hancock, N.T. and Cath, T.Y., 2014. The sweet spot of forward osmosis: treatment of produced water, drilling wastewater, and other complex and difficult liquid streams. Desalination, 333(1), pp.23-35.

Dawoud, M.A., 2012. Environmental impacts of seawater desalination: Arabian Gulf case study. International Journal of Environment and Sustainability (IJES), 1(3).

Doornbusch, G.J., Dykstra, J.E., Biesheuvel, P.M. and Suss, M.E., 2016. Fluidized bed electrodes with high carbon loading for water desalination by capacitive deionization. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 4(10), pp.3642-3647.

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Ibanez, R., Perez-González, A., Gomez, P., Urtiaga, A.M. and Ortiz, I., 2013. Acid and base recovery from softened reverse osmosis (RO) brines. Experimental assessment using model concentrates. Desalination, 309, pp.165-170.

Metke, T., Westover, A.S., Carter, R., Oakes, L., Douglas, A. and Pint, C.L., 2016. Particulate-free porous silicon networks for efficient capacitive deionization water desalination. Scientific reports, 6.

Morillo, J., Usero, J., Rosado, D., El Bakouri, H., Riaza, A. and Bernaola, F.J., 2014. Comparative study of brine management technologies for desalination plants. Desalination, 336, pp.32-49.

Perez-González, A., Urtiaga, A.M., Ibáñez, R. and Ortiz, I., 2012. State of the art and review on the treatment technologies of water reverse osmosis concentrates. Water research, 46(2), pp.267-283.

Sanchez, A.S., Nogueira, I.B.R. and Kalid, R.A., 2015. Uses of the reject brine from inland desalination for fish farming, Spirulina cultivation, and irrigation of forage shrub and crops. Desalination, 364, pp.96-107.

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