Brackish Water Desalination

Treatment of alternative water sources: reverse osmosis, brine management, and more

As water scarcity increases for many regions, brackish water can be a critical resource. However, with total dissolved solids (TDS) ranging from 1,500 to 20,000 mg/L, desalination is required. Recovery and management of the desalination brine requires careful consideration. Saltworks provides advanced technologies for cost-effective brackish water desalination and brine management. We can also help you to optimize your existing assets.

Brackish Water

Brackish water has more dissolved solids than freshwater, but generally less than seawater. Besides sodium chloride, other prominent dissolved solids include manganese, iron, sodium sulfate/bicarbonate, calcium sulfate/bicarbonate, and occasionally naturally occurring radioactive material (e.g. radium). The compositions can vary extensively and may even change with time.


Brackish groundwater can be extracted from suitable locations, often below freshwater aquifers. It is increasingly used as an alternative to freshwater. For many purposes brackish water is desalinated to lower its salinity and/or total dissolved solids (TDS). Advanced membrane treatment technologies that are used to do this include reverse osmosis (RO) and ultrafiltration (UF). However, since many brackish water resources are inland, consideration of brine minimization and management for these plants is essential.

Brackish water desalination diagram
XtremeRO plant RO vessels

Go Beyond Conventional UF and RO

Conventional ultrafiltration (UF) and brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) plants are low cost and widely available. However, they also operate with conventional recoveries, generating substantial brine volumes that must be managed.


More advanced reverse osmosis processes are emerging, pushing recoveries up by 5–10% through unique hydraulic designs, aggressive anti-scalants, and process controls that help maintain membrane throughput.


Saltworks can perform or support advanced brackish desalination projects, taking you a few steps further. We can help you to optimize the entire process for lowest cost of ownership, including: consideration of risk management, redundancy, and up-time.

Additional Treatment Options

We can measure and remove scaling ions from your upstream BWRO to enable additional RO stages that reach the maximum attainable osmotic pressure limits, boost freshwater recovery, and limit brine waste.

  • Use ScaleSense real time scaling ion sensors to maximize plant recovery and protect membrane health.
  • Target contaminants of concern with our IonSelect solutions, remove specific ions, metals, and other contaminants.
  • Prevent scaling ions from entering brine residuals with ion selective FlexEDR systems, enabling much higher recoveries.
  • Remove silica with SilicaSelect or other scaling ions with BrineRefine, reduce TDS and allow enhanced performance downstream.
  • Protect downstream RO assets with XtremeUF, filter suspended solids, oils & grease with our automated, robust, ceramic ultrafiltration system.
  • Add a downstream RO: XtremeRO is our next generation reverse osmosis system, producing freshwater and a low volume brine.
  • Achieve MLD/ZLD with SaltMaker for ultimate brine management: our advanced evaporator crystallizers reach maximum recovery with minimum brine or solid waste.

Contact us to learn more about your brackish water desalination strategy can be improved with advanced technologies.

Saltworks Engineer Analyzes Water Sample at Treatment Plant

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