Investments in ballast water treatment are set to surge on the ratification of global environmental legislation that would help regulate vessels’ water discharges, according to a new report by Global Water Intelligence.

Spending may “explode” with an estimated $45.6 billion in investments over the next five years, the Oxford, U.K.-based water researcher said, outlining the opportunities for technologies to cleanse ship ballast water of invasive species and disease-causing bacteria.

Any regulatory enforcement will prompt the adoption of ballast water-treatment systems, or BWTS, in the marine shipping industry, from fishing boats and cruise ships to oil tankers and container vessels. Companies are developing on-board cleansing systems that include filtration and ultraviolet disinfection.

Ballast water helps stabilize tankers and cargo ships in rough seas yet is believed to have resulted in the introduction of such invasive species as zebra mussels and foreign pathogens to U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes and elsewhere.

Once in force, the International Maritime Organization, or IMO, Ballast Water Management Convention would require larger vessels to install ballast water-treatment systems.

The IMO convention “has not yet been fully ratified whilst the U.S. Coast Guard is yet to make its first full type approval for a BWTS, causing delays in the uptake of BWTS and confusion as to when to install such systems and which to select,” GWI publisher Christopher Gasson said.

Nonetheless, “it’s expected at least one of these events will take place within the next year after which the demand for and uptake of BWTS will increase significantly,” Gasson said.

The peak of capital expenditures anticipated for BWTS is expected to be in 2019, largely from the volume of retrofits needed to comply legally with the regulations, GWI said.

Cargo ships, including bulk carriers, oil tankers and container ships, will drive most of the demand, said GWI, which is hosting a water-industry event starting Sunday in Athens that ends April 28.

©2015 Bloomberg News