Natural Resources: Drinkable Sea Water

With its wet surroundings, Key West, Fla., the southernmost city in the continental U.S., is ideal for conch shell collecting and deep-sea fishing, but it has been hard up for fresh water. The city long had to rely on a 130-mi. Navy-owned pipeline to the mainland, a source vulnerable to hurricanes, drought and, recently, the Navy's rising water appetite at its own local bases.

Last week, Key West became the first U.S. city to get its entire freshwater supply from the sea when the Florida Keys Aqueduct Commission dedicated the world's largest single-unit desalting plant, a gleaming $3.3 million facility...

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