By 2020, desalination and water purification technologies are expected to contribute significantly to ensure a safe, sustainable, affordable and adequate water supply in India. The cost of producing water from the current-generation desalination technologies has declined over time at a rate of only approximately 4% per year. Hence the need to accelerate our Research and Development (R&D) activities with a near and long-term objectives for evolution of current generation desalination technology along with the creation of revolutionary next-generation advanced desalination and water purification technologies that will offer a promise of 'step reduction' in the cost of producing water. There are five broad technological areas (thermal technologies, membrane technologies, alternative technologies, concentrate management technologies, reuse and recycle technologies) that encompass the spectrum of desalination technology. In this paper, high-priority research areas in all the above technological areas are discussed to help make decisions about the research direction that will address our nation's future water supply challenges. Copyright © 2008 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.