A molecular-scale interpretation of interfacial processes is often downplayed in the analysis of traditional water treatment methods. However, such an approach is critical for the development of enhanced performance in traditional desalination and water treatments. Water confined between surfaces, within channels, or in pores is ubiquitous in technology and nature. Its physical and chemical properties in such environments are unpredictably different from bulk water. As a result, advances in water desalination and purification methods may be accomplished through an improved analysis of water behavior in these challenging environments using state-of-the-art microscopy, spectroscopy, experimental, and computational methods.