By Tom Banse, KPLU
Blue Array, a startup company based in Vancouver, Washington is looking to upend the sewage treatment business.
There are literally dozens of small Northwest cities struggling to figure out how to add treatment capacity for growth, or simply update aging and failing infrastructure. Blue Array proposes to give interested cities and their ratepayers a treatment system for free with a service contract.
You probably don’t think much about what happens after you brush or flush until you’re staring a huge sewer bill increase in the face. This happened to the small southwest Washington town of Vader. City council member Kevin Flynn says Vader, a small city looking to grow, had to meet a toughened discharge standard.Vader became the first customer for the modular sewage treatment system sold by Blue Array. Company co-founder and CEO James Reilly says the treatment technology he is deploying is not new, but the arrangement of the pieces and affordability is.
The system in the town of Vader is a relatively small row of metal shipping containers 8 feet tall and 40 feet long bristling with pipes and pumps. The modules pre-treat incoming wastewater before sending it to existing lagoons.
Reilly says the startup tried to radically cut the upfront capital costs of upgrading a sewage treatment plant.
“The elevator pitch was we can save 95 percent of the (capital) cost of wastewater treatment plants by changing the way you do it into a modular system. In fact, it’s so cheap we can give them away for free. Free clean water was the original pitch,” he said.
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