02:28 - Source: CNN
San Diego's billion-dollar water bet

Story highlights

There are 16,000 desalination plants on the planet, and their numbers are rising

A huge desalination plant is under construction in Carlsbad, California

When completed it will be the largest such facility in the Western Hemisphere

Water expert: Ocean water is "a seemingly inexhaustible supply"

Explore the City of Tomorrow, Saturday, July 26 at 2 p.m. ET on CNN.

CNN —  

It’s been a cruel irony for ancient mariners and any thirsty person who has ever gazed upon a sparkling blue ocean: Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

But imagine a coastal city of the future, say in 2035. Along with basic infrastructure such as a port, roads, sewer lines and an electrical grid, it’s increasingly likely this city by the sea will contain a newer feature.

A desalination plant.

Thanks to improved technology, turning ocean water into freshwater is becoming more economically feasible. And a looming global water crisis may make it crucial to the planet’s future.