It has been suggested that using a deep open-ocean intake would improve feed water quality and would reduce the cost of SWRO water treatment by lessening membrane biofouling potential. The feasibility of developing deep intake systems for large-capacity SWRO plants located on the Red Sea was assessed. A bathymetric survey showed that the continental shelf along the Red Sea nearshore has a nearly vertical drop into deep water beginning at depths between 20 and 40 m. The vertical nature of the bathymetric profile and the issue of active seismicity make the development of a SWRO intake at a depth of greater than 100 m below surface a very risky venture along the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. Detailed assessment of temperature and salinity with depth show a decrease of 5 °C and an increase of 1100 mg/L respectively over 90 m. Concentrations of algae, bacteria, total organic carbon, particulate and colloidal TEP, and the biopolymer fraction of natural organic carbon all showed declines in concentration. However, the general water quality improvements in reduced concentrations of organic matter were insufficient to reduce the intensity of pretreatment for an SWRO system. Overall.