BUSINESS BEAT: Grand Forks business nominated ‘Most Promising Start-Up’

Grand Forks’ Environment Depot for Wastewater to Energy Ltd. has been nominated as “Most Promising Start-Up” for the KAST awards.

CEO William Powell's company

Grand Forks’ Environment Depot for Wastewater to Energy Ltd. has been nominated as “Most Promising Start-Up” for the KAST Spirit of Innovation Awards.

KAST, also known as the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology, is a non-profit organization that represents local interests among businesses, industry, government and education.

The company’s chief executive officer William Powell moved to Grand Forks four years ago and is hoping his company will change perspectives on how to treat wastewater.

“We’re taking two established concepts: one being a very simple, cost-effective way to clean up waste water, which has been around for 40 years, and combining the benefits of speeding up the decomposition of manure,” he explained. “We combine this with the long-established anaerobic digestion.”

The anaerobic digestion is where waste goes into a deep lagoon that is sealed with a cover on top. This traps the methane, which is collected and used to generate power.

“It can be used for cooking or heating,” he added.

Powell explained that the benefit to using this lagoon digestion method versus traditional treatment plants is the costs.

“On a per-capita basis, treatment plants are expensive to install, manage and maintain,” he said. “After, you still need to dispose of the sludge and you will still be releasing methane into the atmosphere.”

By using the lagoon digestion method, it becomes easier to clean up water in a cost-effective and reusable resource, Powell stated.

The Environment Depot has already worked with World Vision Haiti and areas in Zimbabwe in managing their wastewater.

Powell noted that he is in discussions with the city.

“We have contacted the city but everything is still just in discussions,” he said. “There aren’t any concrete plans as of yet.”

Other categories for the KAST awards include the Most Innovative Organization, Most Innovative Individual and Most Innovative Company. The Christina Lake Arts and Artisans Society was nominated as Most Innovative Organization.

The gala will take place on Oct. 25 at the Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson. For more information on the Environment Depot, visit www.azacomp.com.