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Watersurplus: Meeting Today’s Needs and Developing Tomorrow’s Technologies

Current sat down with Watersurplus founder and CEO, John Barelli, to get an insider look at Current’s newest corporate member

· Members,Spotlights,Innovation,Wastewater,Water

Q: What should readers know about Watersurplus?

A: Our surplus division most closely reflects the original business we started 30 years ago - to this day, we’re best known for our large inventory of new and rebuilt membrane-related water treatment equipment; yet, we’re so much more than that. We maintain a large, diverse fleet of “ready-to-run” rental equipment for both emergency and temporary, water and wastewater systems – from five gallons per minute to five million gallons per day.

We also offer custom engineering and equipment design, consulting and plant optimization, and off-site membrane cleaning. Our R&D team has developed, and is currently pilot testing, a bio-inspired hydrophilic coating that significantly improves membrane performance by reducing fouling and scaling from hard-to-treat waters.

Watersurplus is deeply committed to solving end-user problems. Over the years, we’ve developed strong relationships with globally diverse water OEMs and integrators, giving us a unique line of site to opportunities in the marketplace.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: We’ve been in business for 30 years with a “small-world” network of customers, addressing a variety of global membrane-related water treatment needs, like ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis. We offer equipment for industrial applications, municipal drinking water, food and beverage plants, and support facilities that are working to reduce waste hauling by reusing treated produced water. Watersurplus is made up of almost 50 professionals, located primarily in Northern Illinois, as well as Texas, California, Indiana and Tennessee.

Our end-user customers have engaged us as collaborative partners in solving their treatment challenges. They count on our team of subject matter experts to understand their water treatment needs and deliver solutions that keep them up and running. To that end, we are a technology-agnostic system integrator, continually researching new products and IP to proactively advance the cause of our customers, who regularly pilot new techniques, products and services, accelerating the incubation process.

Q: Can you give us a recent example of how you helped a customer?

A: Recently, we turned a pilot and rental into a full-plant solution. A large food manufacturing company in California wanted to quickly deploy a small side-by-side pilot test of a nanofiltration system, and a reverse osmosis system for their makeup water. Their focus was on the resulting taste and feel of their yogurt, which depended on the effluent specification of the final make-up water in the production process. After the proof-of-process pilot, we were able to provide them with a long-term equipment rental, so they could immediately ramp-up production, while they freed up the capital necessary to purchase a new plant. We expect to deliver that new plant, with twice the original plant’s capacity, in 2020.

Q: What’s going on right now that is new, different or newsworthy?

A: Our organic growth has allowed us to transform operations from facilitating a marketplace of buyers and sellers, to a one-stop-shop solution provider. This is principally driven by a pull from the marketplace based on our “availability advantage,” and more recently, our large investment in our people. In an effort to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the marketplace, we have also been investing heavily in new IP that will allow us to offer robust, low-fouling membrane solutions to customers across many applications.

Q: Can you tell us more about your “availability advantage?”

A: By maintaining a large inventory of new, refurbished and used equipment, we can mobilize quickly. And our equipment rental service provides us access to pools of equipment, as well as the services to integrate and operate temporary plants for customers with plant expansion and emergency requirements. For customers wishing to pilot their own solutions, we provide an availability advantage by offering smaller equipment, directly out of our stock.

Q: Do you have any examples of when this made a difference to a customer?

A: Of course. Quick mobilization can make a big difference! One that comes to mind is when a power plant operating a zero liquid discharge (ZLD) water system engaged us to troubleshoot an ongoing membrane performance issue. When that softening system failed, it affected the entire water balance – they had to store, haul and dispose of massive amounts of untreated water. Within three weeks of reaching out to us, Watersurplus came up with a solution, including pretreatment filtration skids, two 150-gallon per minute reverse osmosis systems, break tanks, and a brine concentrate reverse osmosis recovery container. The entire system treated three million gallons of stored process water while they repaired their ZLD plant. It was very rewarding to see a customer leverage our team’s experience and asset pool to save money, as well as expedite solutions.

Q: What does Watersurplus hope to achieve with its Current membership?


A: We operate with a firm commitment to innovation and collaboration. This is true both internally and externally, with customers, vendors and industry partners. With our membership at Current, we see an opportunity to participate in an overtly collaborative organization, where we can cooperate and contribute to solving the big problems that our industry will face in the near-future.

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