Global Water in the Edmonton Journal
Dave Hatala stands inside a 12 x 50 trailer converted to a water purification unit. Global Water is a small local water purification firm which has gone from bottled water to building compact, complete mobile skid mounted water purification systems for remote work camps. Photograph by:Shaughn Butts, Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON – It may seem a stretch to move from selling home water treatment systems to building multimillion dollar mobile treatment plants, but Dave Hatala looks at it as a natural progression.
“And this mobile business has become a growth industry for us, because people are demanding pure water in remote areas,” said the head of Edmonton-based Global Water Group.
Hatala is not competing with the City of Edmonton and other large metropolitan areas, which he notes produce very good water. His target market exists in small towns, aboriginal communities and work camps for oil and gas firms scattered throughout areas where water must be trucked in at great expense. The firm even has a client on Baffin Island.
“And some places have a lot of ‘boil water’ advisories, so this system would solve those kind of problems,” he said. “Water is such as basic need, and we are extremely busy. For a company, having reliable drinking water is critical. With 50 men in a camp, if you have no water, everything stops.”
The company’s mobile units can be rented for $800 to $1,500 a day, and short-term rentals are the most common deal for companies with camps on the move.
Global stores its skid-mounted units between jobs, and they move out to new work sites along with other mobile camp structures.
“Our system can provide pure water for a camp of 50 people, and this can be expanded to suit any larger size. And we have a built-in redundancy, so every part of our system is a duplex (with a parallel backup),” said Hatala.
Like his competitors, Hatala will receive a water sample from a client and be asked to bid on a treatment system. Clients with water containing certain chemicals, for example, may require additional equipment.
While Global’s system is easy to operate and quick to install — considered “plug and play” — Global technicians have to do the attachments and start the system. After that, a trained employee of the renting firm will be responsible for checking the system daily, ensuring that the flows are proper and performing tests on the end product — pure water.
“No system can operate without checks, you are dealing with people’s lives,” said Hatala, who reminds staff and customers of the pitfalls of improperly trained operators taking shortcuts or not paying attention, and of the potential for fatal disease from contaminated water. Though the system can be monitored and controlled remotely — Global staff are able to make changes from a computer in Edmonton — the firm insists upon hands-on checks.
Hatala admits he is obsessed with the topic of clean water.
“With a system like this there is no reason why anybody should not have pure water in this country.”
The average Canadian uses almost 200 litres of water each day, mostly for washing cars, flushing toilets, running showers and watering lawns. Fire fighters can use large amounts if there is a major blaze. While many Canadians never think twice about water, some industries are extremely fussy about water quality.
“Our first large commercial customers were Federated Co-ops across the Prairies, which are largely in smaller centres. They use our water purification system for their retail water dispensers in their stores, but also for their own uses throughout their buildings,” said Hatala.
And that includes bakery and meat processing areas, where there can be no doubts about the water quality.
“They have their own system and are not reliant on the local water services (for purity). It is an advantage for them,” he added.
So going the next step to mobile plants was a logical extension.
“There are a few other firms doing this, but the market is expanding quickly,” said Hatala.
Each mobile unit starts with a custom-made, extra-strong trailer. Technicians then add the purification systems, holding tanks and plumbing.
Global’s basic unit will produce about 80 litres of clean water per minute, and run around the clock.
It has the capability to deal with raw water from wells, streams or lakes that contains iron, tannins from rotted vegetation, manganese, hydrogen sulphide, bacteria, nitrates, mould, viruses or arsenic. The raw water passes through sand in a pressure vessel in order to remove silt and sediment. A second vessel contains a resin to remove even finer material. Both systems have an automatic back-wash system.
Hydrogen peroxide is added, and the water then passes through more filters that remove almost all metals and bacteria, algae and fungi. The water is stored in tanks with an automatic ozone circulation to ensure it remains disinfected.
When the water is sent into the camp’s supply lines, it passes through an ultraviolet lamp system and is injected with free chlorine that keeps the entire system clean. Global runs this water through the camp’s plumbing to flush their system when camps are established.