Orica Watercare Brings Ion Exchange, DBP Compliance To Municipalities

Ellen Gaby

Ellen Gaby of Orica Watercare discusses the benefits of ion exchange for removing disinfection byproducts (DBPs), as well as the uniqueness of Orica’s MIEX process.

Todd Schnick: We’re coming to you live from Dallas, Texas. This is day three of AWWA ACE 2012 and Water Online Radio. I’m your host, Todd Schnick, joined by my colleague, Todd Youngblood. Finally, we get a lady to join us. 

Todd Youngblood: We had one yesterday, and somehow she didn’t show up. I didn’t understand why that was.

Todd Schnick: Well, probably you but… maybe it could have been.

Todd Youngblood: We scare people off? Do you think it was me again? Not again.

Todd Schnick: Well I’m excited to welcome her. I want to say hello to Ellen Gaby, who is the VP of Sales at Orica Watercare. Welcome to the show, Ellen.

Ellen: Hello.

Todd Schnick: It’s good to have you, Ellen. Before we get into it, do take a second and tell us a little bit about you and your background.

Ellen: I’ve been in water treatment for 30 years; I’ve been with Orica Watercare since 2005. So we’ve seen the introduction of some new regulations and we’re working very hard to help our clients meet them.

Todd Schnick: Do us a favor and share with the audience a bit more about what Orica Watercare is all about, and what you're doing for your market.

Ellen: Orica Watercare really focuses on disinfection byproduct compliance. Our product was created specifically for removing organics and allowing customers to meet these new regulations. So really we have a laser focus on regulations, and allowing our customers to become compliant with those regulations. And that’s really all we do.

Todd Schnick: How big a deal is that? There are regulations, so your customers, obviously they have to comply. They don’t really have a choice. But what’s different about what you have to offer versus some other folks who are out there doing the same sorts of things?

Ellen: What’s different is that our process simply removes that which you don’t want from the water. The nice thing about ion exchange is that you actually exchange those things in the water that you don’t want for things that don’t matter, that are fine, that are already naturally in the water.

We’re not adding a chemical that could lead to unanticipated consequences down the line. Or create a byproduct that may become regulated in the future. We simply remove those things from the water that you didn’t want to have there.

Todd Schnick: Ellen, how unique is that technology? I won’t pretend I understand all of it, but it just sounds different than what we’ve heard before so far at the show here.

Ellen: It was created specifically for this application, to remove organics from drinking water. And ion exchange has been around for a very long time. The way that it was utilized in a process was very difficult to be done in large flow rates, such as you would have in a municipal drinking water application.

Todd Schnick: Right.

Ellen: So that’s what’s different about our process, is finally the process has become flexible enough to be used in very large applications.

Todd Schnick: Ellen, two-part question here. Explain what DBP regulations are. And then, more importantly, what valve does Orica offer its customers facing Stage 1 and Stage 2 DBP regulations?

Ellen: Disinfection Byproducts regulation regulates the use of an oxidant like chlorine or bromine with organics, so that the byproducts that naturally occur when you add a disinfectant to a water that has organics in it. And these have now become regulated to a degree for which most people have to change the way that their drinking water plant operates.

A lot of states and a lot of municipalities have gone about this by adding chemicals, and some have been able to meet the regulations by adding chemicals. But most of that has not removed the source of the problem, which are the organics in the first place.

Todd Schnick: Ellen, help us understand a little bit about the financial impact of all these regulations. There’s obviously a cost to comply.

Ellen: Right.

Todd Schnick: But there’s got to be a benefit somewhere. Just talk us through that.

Ellen: Right. The cost of meeting these regulations has been tremendous, particularly for small drinking water plants in small cities and towns where they had a narrow budget to begin with. One of the things I like about our process is — for surface water plants which were using a lot of chemicals — they can actually lower their operational cost by introducing our process.

So by working with our municipalities, a lot of times our equipment will pay for itself in a very short period of time.

Todd Schnick: I want to make sure I understand what you said. It’s offsetting the cost of complying with the regulation? Are operational maintenance costs really lower?

Ellen: That’s correct. In our best case, our customers get disinfection byproduct compliance as a bonus, but they really get to tighten up their plant, lower their operating costs, lower the sludge, and make the whole plant work a lot better.

Todd Schnick: That’s a heck of a value proposition for Orica. Wow.

Ellen: The problem is getting people to look long-term, because adding chemicals is fast, and it’s easy. And it doesn’t take a lot of planning. And it doesn’t take a lot of financial finesse. But being able to create a financial package that allows a city to spread their operational costs over — sometimes we’re talking about a payback of five years, which is fantastic.

We do have some cities that are announcing that they will be able to lower their rates in five or six years because they’ve implemented this process. But it takes a financially savvy city to structure their program to where they could actually recover these costs, and pay for it upfront.

But we are working with those cities and towns that have quite a bit of financial savvy. And then we’re working with a lot of people who just can’t meet the compliance. And so they just really have to figure it out.

Todd Youngblood: There are all kinds of ways they need it.

Ellen: There are all kinds of ways they need it.

Todd Schnick: Ellen, we’re really curious to hear about this MIEX process, and whether or not there is any new advancement in that.

Ellen: There are some new advances. The MIEX process, as we’ve said before, was really targeted specifically for disinfection byproducts regulation for removing the organics. But the latest technological innovation is that we are mixing resins in the MIEX process so that we can meet Disinfection Byproducts, but also secondary standards, like hardness. Remove hardness while we’re removing the organics.

Target specific anti-ions that may be an issue, like nitrate, or sulfide, or bromide. So really being able to custom-blend a system so that we get you in compliance, but we also allow you to meet secondary standards that your citizens wanted.

Todd Schnick: Ellen, I hate to say it, but we’re out of time. Before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you? And more importantly, where can they get more information about the good work at Orica Watercare?

Ellen: The best way for them to get in touch with us would be to go to our website, which is www.MIEXresin.com. There, they can get links to all the information on our product, they can get phone numbers, and they can get in touch with us.

Todd Schnick: Outstanding. Ellen Gaby, VP of Sales with Orica Watercare, it was great to have you. Thanks so much for joining us.

Ellen: Thank you. Have a great day.

Todd Schnick: You too. All right. Well that wraps this segment. On behalf of our guest, Ellen Gaby, my co-host, Todd Youngblood, all of us at Water Online, I am Todd Schnick, we’ll be right back with our next guest.