Using icebergs to bring fresh water where it is scarce is an old idea. What makes them impractical is the massive engine power needed to tow an iceberg and preventing it from melting while in transport. A recent article at LiveScience.com indicates a solution is possible. It would require a heavy-duty tugboat to drag an iceberg weighing 7 million tons from Greenland to the Canary Islands. The trip would take 140 days.
To prevent seawater erosion, a floating textile skirt is being designed by French engineer Georges Mougin. A real world trial may take place in 2012 or 2013. The operation has to take into account a lot of variables like unpredictable weather (common in the North Atlantic) and rough seas. And the possibility of iceberg fracture has to be considered. And just as important is the cost to do this. Will it be worth the money to harvest icebergs and tow them to you for their fresh water? Mougin has to prove it will be cost effective. And that is the problem. Right now the costs would be astronomical for just one iceberg.
LiveScience.com, Icebergs Floated as Solution for World’s Water Woes, 16 Aug 2011