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Not as much as people might think. Up here in QLD the power used to run a mega desal plant would be less than piping the water from the proposed traveston dam to Brisbane (about 150km) not to mention the Carbon Emissions created by dams. Also, desal plants can run of green energy.
 

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Wouldn't it be easier to catch the salt free water that FALLS OUT OF THE SKY?
Not really. The hard bit is catching it in large doses. And if the fresh water doesn't fall from the sky, you're screwed. I know people who have had to live entirely off tank water and it is amazing how much rain you need on your roof to keep up the supply.
 

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^^How big were your personal tanks? Could they fit on suburban blocks?

Also water supplies for industry, multi unit dwellings and commercial premesis are also required...hence the need for large water sources.
 
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