It’s essential to have a complete, end-to-end solution for water management services

Outsourcing has become a bit of a buzzword lately. As industries home in on growing their core business, it’s become more effective to bring in external partners for peripheral jobs and services. This is an increasingly popular strategy across major industrial sectors.

So what exactly is outsourcing?
While outsourcing is a broad term, in the industrial space it generally occurs when larger industrial companies seek external partners to handle a set of activities, such as waste management. It can include on-site water management, wastewater management (often including recycling), and sludge treatment and disposal.

What kind of businesses outsource?
Oil and gas, food, beverage and manufacturing businesses share the need for water management services. Silicon manufacturing, for example, requires ultra-pure water to polish wafers. Hydraulic fracturing injects a liquid mixture of water and chemicals into the ground to break up difficult to reach oil reserves. Each of these processes produces its own particular combination of polluted water. In order to release this dirty water back into the water cycle, it must be cleaned. In many cases, however, due to high treatment expenses or local regulations, wastewater is disposed of in wells or trucked far away to centralized treatment facilities. Businesses must devote resources to dealing with this headache.

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Most companies don’t want to designate resources to staff an in-house water manager and are turning to outside resources. We’ve seen this practice implemented by major corporations such as Coca-Cola, IBM and Intel, which have outsourced their waste management entirely. The practice is gaining popularity among smaller industrial businesses as well.

Why now?
Water infrastructure is aging. Today there is a $500 billion gap in water investment in the United States, according to the EPA. New standards are cropping up to put the burden of waste treatment on business instead of local utilities. Environmental concerns are also driving stricter disposal regulations that protect our water resources, further complicating wastewater treatment. For example, the EPA recently released guidelines governing wastewater discharge from steam electric and coal-powered power plants. Many facilities that previously disposed of their dirty water or used an internal wastewater treatment system now find that their methods haven’t kept pace with today’s regulations.

To purchase a water treatment facility or equipment requires a substantial investment of time and resources. Companies must do water analyses, technology evaluation, scope development, vendor evaluation, capital budgeting, and proposal requests and evaluation. Next, they must do final design work, equipment fabrication, environmental permitting, field installation and process optimization — work that detracts from their core operations.

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By partnering with external experts who own and operate water equipment and services, facility personnel can better concentrate their resources on their core business. Outsourcing can help take care of all the tasks related to water treatment in a comparatively short time span. Outsourcing can even be completed on site, minimizing logistics costs associated with central treatment and disposal.

What to look for in a water services partner
It’s essential to have a complete, end-to-end solution for water management services that can cost-effectively treat a company’s unique combination of polluted water, while also maximizing process efficiency. Businesses also should track down a seasoned expert. Each liquid waste stream and permit is unique, and permits are based on local or federal regulations. It’s important to have the level of expertise necessary to determine and execute the best process for treating water at a minimal cost.

OriginClear, a leading provider of water treatment solutions, recognizes and serves the growing demand for outsourced water treatment services, and understands that there is a value in building a leading group of water service companies, each with a specific industry focus. OriginClear is currently consolidating smaller, expert, more agile water treatment companies to build a high-quality network of water services companies, called the OriginClear Group.

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Progressive Water Treatment Inc. (PWT), an industrial water services provider based in Dallas, Texas, is the first member of the OriginClear Group. PWT is an outsourcing partner and subcontractor for many types of operations, including oil operations and municipalities. Recently, PWT partnered with water management provider STW Holding Corp. to recover more than a million gallons per day of previously rejected water for Horizon City, Texas, by building a breakthrough system that uses reverse osmosis to reclaim and treat wastewater. The new system recaptured approximately one-half of the processed water for utilization, which will provide drinking water for more than 30 percent of Horizon City's residents.

Outsourcing was an effective way, both from a cost and results standpoint, for Horizon City to improve its water treatment operation. This project illustrates how water treatment service companies can provide multidisciplinary collaboration for a client. PWT built and commissioned Horizon’s system on behalf of STW Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of STW Resources, with engineering from TRE & Associates. The partners worked together to serve the client, Horizon City, seamlessly. OriginClear’s plan to assemble an array of companies with complementary capabilities will go a step further to enable outsourcers to call on a single company.

The future of water management
Water is a finite resource, and today we face significant constraints. The World Economic Forum recently ranked water scarcity the leading long-term risk worldwide and according to the United Nations, industry consumes nearly 60 percent of available water in high-income countries. This is not just a water issue; it’s a wastewater issue. We need to find solutions that can help us more efficiently and effectively recycle clean water worldwide. 

Businesses are seeking solutions that will take the headache out of wastewater management. With a customizable, high-quality and cost-effective group of consolidated water treatment and services companies, businesses can finally simplify wastewater management and disposal by delegating the challenges to an outsourced expert. 

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