Treatment vs. Transport: A framework for assessing the trade-offs between on-site desalination and off-site water sourcing for an industrial case study

Belmondo Bianchi, A.; Wreyford, J.M.; Willet, J.; Gerdessen, J.C.; Dykstra, J.E.; Rijnaarts, H.H.M.


Limited availability of fresh water and growing industrial demand have led to an increased need for alternative water sources. Two common alternative sources are on-site desalination (treatment) and off-site water sourcing (transport). Decision-makers managing the integration of these alternative sources need tools to help assess the economic and sustainability impacts, as the combination can result in thousands of options. This research is aimed at developing a modelling framework for Data Envelopment Analysis for Integrated Water Resource Management to enable the comparative analysis of integrated treatment and transport technologies. This framework can assess alternative water supply configurations of treatment and transport and then identify the preferable configuration based on economic and environmental indicators. The framework is comprised of two evaluation modules. First, the performance of treatment and transport are determined using previously developed simulation models. Second, the outputs of these models are analyzed using data envelopment analysis. The framework was applied to an industrial case study in the Netherlands where the best configuration was a combination of 20-30% treatment and 70-80% transport. The outputs of the framework were shown to assist decision-managers in tailoring the configuration for their situation. It was shown that treatment and transport can be complementary measures, since treatment has a greater potential to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions while transport is generally more cost-effective.