Manara - Qatar Research Repository
10.1016_j.wri.2023.100225.pdf (3.01 MB)

Governing desalination, managing the brine: A review and systematization of regulatory and socio-technical issues

Download (3.01 MB)
journal contribution
submitted on 2024-02-01, 08:30 and posted on 2024-02-01, 08:31 authored by Mohammad Al-Saidi, Imen Saadaoui, Radhouane Ben-Hamadou

Desalination has become an attractive option for addressing water needs or solving problems of increasing water scarcity and short-term supply interruptions. However, several negative environmental impacts are associated with the resulting brine, for which a range of treatment, recovery, and disposal technologies have been suggested in the academic literature. Despite this, the technological emphasis fails to explain the absence of sustainable practices in many countries or the roles and responsibilities of involved actors. There is also a lack of consistent conceptualizations that include regulatory and governance-related issues. In this review paper, we examined the brine management issue in desalination activities as a socio-technical issue that needs to be embedded more strongly within governance and regulatory frameworks. Case experiences and options related to command and control, economic regulation, market-based approaches and public support are discussed and linked with brine management practices. This review paper shows that baseline regulations such as standards, assessments, and thresholds are still emerging, but they need to be complemented by approaches focusing on desalination costs and environmental performance. Overall, cross-sectoral collaboration in designing local brine regulation options is important for solving the brine issue. There is a need to create a joint action arena between the desalination industry, the public sector, and actors involved in innovations related to brine management. Besides, public leadership, through providing incentives and investments, is highly valuable for sustainable brine management. This leadership should address the cost of brine treatment or the required infrastructural development.

Other Information

Published in: Water Resources and Industry
See article on publisher's website:


Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Qatar University
  • College of Arts and Sciences - QU
  • Environmental Science Center - QU
  • Center for Sustainable Development - CAS

Usage metrics

    Qatar University



    Ref. manager