Overcoming the problem of saltwater intrusion using cutting-edge technology
early 1990s, Cape May, New Jersey found itself facing a water crisis common to many coastal cities and towns. The city's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean permitted saltwater to seep into underground aquifers. As a result, ever-increasing quantities of water had to be purchased from nearby communities. In 1995, realizing that the problem was escalating, Cape May hired Metcalf & Eddy to evaluate the problem and come up with a solution. In April 1996, M&E recommended the construction of a 2-mgd desalination treatment facility which would meet the city's water requirements through the year 2020.
Acknowledging the viability of this solution, the city selected M&E for the design of the new facilities. This will include drilling new wells and installing new processes in the existing water treatment plant. The desalination process will use reverse osmosis technology, forcing the brackish water through very thin membranes, thereby significantly reducing the amount of salt it contains.
The Cape May facility will be the first of its kind in the northeastern U.S. It is an important water treatment advance as saltwater intrusion increasingly affects drinking water quality along the eastern seaboard.
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