What Is Brackish Water
Brackish water (or brak water as some may call it) is a mixture of fresh and saline water. This may be found in places where fresh and saline waters mix. An example of this place is an estuary. Due to this, brackish water has a lower salinity compared to ocean water. However, it is a little bit salty compared to fresh water. The salinity of this water ranges from 0.5 to 2ppt (parts per thousands)
Another major difference between saline water and brackish water is its density. Density is the difference in thickness of a substance. Brackish water is less dense in ocean water. This means it will boil faster as compared to saline water. Apart from estuaries, this water can also be found in mangroves or even some lakes
Also, this water may form due to human activities. Among these activities are;
- Prawn farming
- Civil engineering projects
- Use of excessive fertilizers
However, you should know that brackish water is harmful to terrestrial plants. This means that it can’t support their growth thus should be managed not to touch the plants.
Examples Of Brackish Water Bodies
Brackish water is found throughout the world in different sizes shapes and even settings. Among the known, brackish water bodies include the Baltic Sea, the black sea, and the Caspian Sea. However, there are a variety of brackish lakes throughout the world. Among these lakes include; lake Charles in the united states, chilika lake in India, Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan, and lake van.
Other brackish water bodies include loch, this include; loch long, loch of stennes, loch obisarry and loch bee. Estuaries, however, are commonly known for the production of brackish water. This being due to the fact that they offer a place for saline and fresh water to mix. Among the known brackish water estuaries are;
- The Amazon river as it empties its water into the Atlantic Ocean.
- Delaware Bay
- The Thames estuary located in England
- Rio de la Plata in Argentina
- The Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.
According to this list, most brackish water bodies are located in the united states.
Uses Of Brackish Water
As much as brackish water does not accommodate the growth of some plant species, it is quite fertile. Given you throw in the right seeds into the ground and provide brackish water your crops will flourish. Also, fish does well in this kind of water. However, fish that survive in this kind of water has a specific adaptation. These adaptations enable the fish to cope with the saline nature of this water.
These adaptations enable the fish to cope with the changing salinity of brackish water without dying. Some of these fish include; striped bass and redfish. Other fish that do quite well in brackish water include;
- Drum fish- (known for its repetitive drumming sound it produces, the drum fish thrives well in brackish water. This kind of fish is quite edible and can go well with several dishes.)
- Ray fish
Well, some people may find it puzzling how to use salty water in their day to day tasks. This can be done in an easy procedure known as desalination. This is a process that removes excess salt from water thus giving you fresh water for consumption and even irrigation. In some cases, this process provides salt that can be used in our day to day life.
In the united states, brackish water is desalinated before entering Mexico. This so as to meet treaty obligations that were agreed on by the two countries. Most countries in the middle east have reserves to desalinate this water thus making it usable for agricultural and domestic water. This reduces the cost that would have been incurred on drilling dams hence flourishing of the economy.
Brackish water is a great option where there are freshwater sources as they can be easily desalinated. With this water held in several aquifers, drilling them can provide water to be used for up to years without facing drought. However, while drilling these aquifers you should ensure that the brackish water does not mix with fresh water sources. This being because it can lead to freshwater turning salty. Desalination of brackish water can prove to be a lifesaver in areas with no fresh water sources.
Cons Of Desalinating Brackish
Well, desalinating brackish water has several advantages. On the other hand, it has several disadvantages too. Among these disadvantages include;
- Contamination of fresh water supplies- while drilling brackish water from aquifers, it may find its way into freshwater sources. This leads to high salinity levels of water thus making it hard to use domestically. This may lead to spoilage of crops and also the demise of some water creatures. To avoid this, you should keep your desalination plants under strict observation. Also, proper infrastructure should be used while drilling into these aquifers.
- Deprives water of its minerals- while desalinating water, you take out harmful substances. While at it, important minerals are eliminated from the water. This provides water less of minerals thus the poor growth of plants.
- High amounts of energy needed- to desalinate this water, you will need a high amount of energy. This leads to a high expenditure compared to other ways of getting fresh water.
- After desalinating water, the byproducts are driven to a specific place. These products have a high salinity thus lead to the death of species living in the ecosystem. To properly dispose of these wastes, it needs a lot of cash which many cannot afford. Poorly disposed byproducts lead to environmental pollution which exposes people to several hazards.
As much as desalination of brackish water is a great source of water, doing this can prove to be quite costly. This is because getting the infrastructure to do this will require loads of cash. This process requires skilled labor as if it is done in the wrong manner it may lead to several health risks. The power used in this plants is also quite expensive hence high price to get clean water from this water.