The purpose of the program is to determine the most technologically efficient and cost- effective means by which useable water can be produced from saline water or water otherwise impaired or contaminated. Currently, the cost of desalting seawater is 3 to 5 times the comparable cost of desalting brackish water, which is up to twice as expensive as the treatment and delivery of other municipal water supplies (not counting sewage-related costs). Funding for the new Desalination R&D Program is provided through Bureau of Reclamation's Office of Research in the Department of the Interior
This report discusses the implications of cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment in the context of congressional and administrative decision-making structures. It identifies constraints on flexible decision-making and some implications of trying to overcome them.