cleantech insights

Global Water Fathom: A Smart Utility-to-Utility Solution

Mia Javier

Phoenix-based Global Water has launched a new smart water solution named Fathom: the solution represents one of the most thoughtful go-to-market strategies that I have come across to date.

Led by President and CEO, Trevor Hill, Global Water owns and operates regulated water and wastewater utilities in the south western states. Hill is a mechanical engineer by training and was on the leading edge of membrane adoption – specifically membrane bioreactor water recycling systems – in the nineties. He has since become a leader in the development of business models for water, and channels-to-market evangelist.

After years of new technology adoption to drive down the cost of operation of Global Water’s own water treatment systems and wastewater recycling and purple pipe distribution systems, it became clear to Hill that Global’s insight and experiences could be very useful to the multitudes of municipalities out there struggling with water scarcity issues. Indeed, in addition to availability issues, utilities operate in a world of increasing costs and revenue reductions.

These issues became particularly acute when the market turned in 2008. FathomTM was Hill’s solution to addressing municipal concerns head on: lack of capital, lack of IT infrastructure and risk aversion to new …


212 Resources: Aiming for Sustainable Natural Gas Production

Mia Javier

The Oil & Gas industry has come under fire in recent months with a plethora of media coverage on fracking practices and their potential impacts on community water sources. Combined with the BP oil spill disaster, the industry has had its hands full with PR management though ‘fracking’ is the hot-button issue to date. Media coverage of methane contamination in Pennsylvania drinking water sources due to shale gas production has been widely cited. Regulatory agencies, as a result, have been mobilized to look into the issue.

Whether the methane contamination is due to the drilling (specifically well construction) or the fracking process (i.e. the injection of chemicals down drilled wells) the debate and conversation will likely rage on. All the same, like many other heavy water use industries, Oil & Gas has its specific water challenges and we here at the Cleantech Group are noting the emergence of technology vendors with specific treatment solutions for this sector.

According to Les Merrill, VP of Project Development at Utah-based 212 Resources, “At 212 Resources we see our solution as enabling natural gas production to help regions with energy needs.” (212 refers to the boiling point of water in degrees …

A Nod to Ontario

Mia Javier

After two weeks of travel, I’m pleased to be back safely on the ground here in San Francisco – fired up, no less by the commitment to sustainability and the required development of water technology tools articulated by various speakers at the Ontario Water Leadership Summit.

Mia's Panel

On my plate post event is to write-up a report that summarizes the key takeaways from the various discussions that took place. At the moment, I’m surrounded by piles of hand-written notes as I synthesize but there are a few key themes worth previewing before the report comes out:

1. Regions acknowledge the need for continued ecosystem development: Representatives from Singapore, Toronto, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and the Netherlands shared their best practices and efforts towards creating the idealized ecosystem for water technology development and sustainable use of water resources.

2. Closing the Water Loop: A number of startup companies featured at the event fell under the umbrella of ‘energy and resource recovery’ from wastewater. This is part of a growing trend for water users at every level to consider new and efficient ways of using water (direct and embedded).

3. Related to (1), an entrepreneur drought: Cultivating and encouraging talent to build …

The Promise of Water Innovation

Mia Javier

A dialogue has emerged among industry groups, regulatory agencies, investors and R&D communities about the importance of water innovation and innovative water resource management approaches. The tradeoff debates are becoming especially acute, particularly as they relate to energy, food and common goods.

As a result, environmental, economic and social demands for water continue to be in fierce competition, resulting in some sobering statistics. One study has projected that, based on current water use practices, by 2030 3.9 billion individuals will be living under severe water stress. Not a good outlook for communities and certainly not a good outlook for business.

In some cases, adapting to water stress has produced regional leaders in both water technology development and integrated water resource management. While the particular circumstance of water stress can be a key driver, many also recognize that the value of ensuring water security is part and parcel with supporting economic development.

Still, water technology development is a fairly new phenomenon and venture capital (VC) or ‘innovation financing’ has not yet organized itself around this particular sector. Indeed, financing for water technology innovation accounts for a paltry 2% to 3% of total cleantech VC. With the exception of those in the …

Water: Week in Review

Mia Javier


M&A/ Partnerships


Loving (and hating) Water Outlooks?

Mia Javier

It’s only natural that as an analyst, I am consistently asked to whip out my crystal ball and share the future of water technologies. The reality is that I’m more inclined to highlight the challenges that water innovators are confronted with in the context of our global need for better water resource management. Naturally, it would be worthless to consider technologies outside the scope of the solutions that they need to solve. So while there are some days that I hate to answer a specific water technology outlook request, most days I love sharing my answer to this question.

Since a typical aspect of market research has historically been market sizing, many water outlook requests are growth trend questions. In other words, the typical question is: where should I be investing my money in the water sector? Which markets present the greatest opportunity?

For those of you that know about the Black Swan (the theory, not the movie starring Natalie Portman), it suggests that the most innovative companies that have emerged throughout history while complete surprises, were ultimately rationalized in hindsight. I’m not saying that market sizing isn’t important (our CEO would kill me if I said that!), I’m saying …

Energy Management in Water: Focus on Derceto

Mia Javier

There has been a lot of discussion around the water-energy nexus concept. Innovators are developing new technologies to improve the energy requirements of treatment technologies while others are developing technologies that harvest the energy and mineral/nutrient content of waste streams. It is an immensely promising area due in no small part to the fact that customers of all camps are typically quite sensitive to their energy costs.

Water utilities in particular are acutely aware that approximately 90% to 95% of their energy related costs are utilized by pumps. While the prioritization of energy efficient pumps in the procurement process can save on such costs, engineering firms play a significant role in helping water utilities optimize pump scheduling of existing assets. Such services are typically based on hourly rates on a per project basis and can be viewed as either potential partnership opportunities or gating barriers for new water market entrants.

Derceto (see Company Insight Report, subscription required), is a New Zealand based company that has a perspective from both worlds. The company spun off from an engineering firm and now sells an ‘off the shelf’ software product that optimizes pump scheduling for water utilities. Their software has helped EBMUD

Water: Week in Review

Mia Javier

Our research team regularly tracks key water sector news.  Below is this week’s highlights. Do you think we missed anything? Let us know!


  • Talquin Electric Cooperative Implements Sensus AMI and Smart Metering Technologies for Electric and Water Service Talquin Electric Cooperative, Florida’s 5th largest distribution electrical cooperative, is implementing Sensus technologies for its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and smart metering program that will serve all 54,000 residential, commercial and industrial members in its 2,600 square mile territory.
  • GE Supplying Water Recycling Technology to First US Power Plant to Be Built With Stricter Federal, State Emissions Limits GE today announced its zero liquid discharge (ZLD) wastewater recycling technology will be installed at the Russell City Energy Center (RCEC), a new 600-megawatt (MW) natural gas and steam combined-cycle power plant being built in Alameda County, Calif. “GE’s ZLD system is an example of how technology can play a vital role in helping utilities and governments reduce the impacts of energy production on the world’s vital fresh water supplies,” said Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water.

  • GE Technology Purifies Water at One of World’s Largest Coal Power Plants. South Africa’s leading power provider,

Puralytics: A Paradigm Shift in Distributed Water Treatment

Mia Javier

Giant, centralized water utilities are faced with the difficult task of serving a growing customer base with limited funding and increased regulation. Advances in contaminant detection have put the spotlight on a class of ‘emerging’ contaminants that standard treatment systems are typically unable to address. While technology may be available to ensure regulatory compliance, often, such solutions are cost prohibitive or in some instances, create more problems than there were to begin with like the creation of a secondary waste stream.

Yet while large water utilities serving populations of 100,000 or greater are well known (like LADWP, Thames Water) and perhaps get more press, there are classes of water users that fall in between household residential scale users and utility/ large industrial scale users.  In the case of residential users, rural areas with much smaller populations (3,000 or less) require different types of water treatment systems than what are currently utilized by large utilities. Such users require cost efficient and regulatory compliant point-of-use (POU) or point-of-entry (POE) treatment solutions. Equally important for such systems is that they be simple to operate and require low maintenance.

Similarly, smaller scale industrial and commercial users require cost efficient, easy O&M systems that can …

Water: Week in Review

Mia Javier

Our research team regularly tracks key water sector news.  Below is this week’s highlights. Do you think we missed anything? Let us know!

Deals & Market News

  • H2O Innovation secures water treatment contracts in North Africa, Russia and North America. Under new contracts worth C$7.8 million, H2O Innovation is to supply custom-built water treatment systems and equipment to power generation and industrial end-users in Northern Africa, Russia and North