Trends and News

Water Science and Marketing announces corporate name change

Cedar, Minn. (October 15 2010) - To more accurately reflect its innovative services, Water Science and Marketing LLC (WSM) has changed its corporate name to Water Think Tank (WTT). Principals Philip Olsen and David Paulson agreed that 'think tank' is a term that applies to the company's approach to business ventures for two reasons.

"First, our planning of a project is comprehensive - we draw experts from a large network of associates in all disciplines. These experts are not only in their comfort zone, but are proven professionals. Second, we apply big picture thinking in defining each problem or opportunity, in contrast to the narrow focus of a specialist. Our clients not only receive the experience and deep expertise they expect, they also get an integrated management view of its application." said Paulson.

The partners at WTT have more than 90 years of combined experience in several managerial areas at the director and executive level. This experience qualifies them to provide innovative service to start-ups, investors, government agencies and established manufacturers in the water technology industry. WTT has particular expertise in membrane separations, drinking water, critical water applications and nano-scale materials.

Recent projects by WTT include value assessments of new technologies, market entry strategies, new technology development to replace a long-established product with a more eco-friendly alternative, residential product performance for removing emerging contaminants for a state agency, and market opportunities for both venture capital firms and operating businesses. The WTT Principals sit on water treatment related committees of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), NSF International and nonprofit agencies focused on providing sustainable water treatment technology.

Contact: V. Olsen at 763-434-2020 or

Water Think Tank LLC is a full-scope consultancy with a focus on the global water industry business. Government and industry clients tap WTT for business strategies and programs for technology assessment and development, market entry strategy, product development, testing and performance verification, certification and regulatory compliance, and marketing, sales and distribution of water systems. The firm has deep expertise in filtration membranes for drinking water and wastewater, filter design, ion exchange, related technologies and intellectual property development.

Water Think Tank Partner Jorge Fernandez Retires

MINNETONKA, Minn. (October 2010) - Water Think Tank LLC (until recently Water Science and Marketing) has announced that Jorge Fernandez, a founding partner of the water treatment consulting company, has entered the well-earned retirement phase of his career.

Fernandez started his career with SC Johnson & Son, moved to Whirlpool Corporation, and then on to Pentair Inc., where he was a key executive in the change to water treatment that made Pentair a leader in the field. He co-founded Water Science and Marketing in 2004.

Although he has cut back on his day-to-day activities, Fernandez is still available to consult on select projects, and continues to use his marketing and water treatment expertise to advise Water Think Tank. His new title with the company is Partner Emeritus.

In addition to continued affiliation with Water Think Tank, Jorge has joined the board at Compatible Technologies Inc. This locally based nonprofit has a global focus and develops and distributes affordable post-harvest food and drinking water technology for poor, rural regions of the world. The founders of CTI are from food giants General Mills and Cargill, and Jorge brings his water treatment expertise to help with the drinking water needs in the poorest regions of the world. Look for some exciting developments in this area coming from CTI.

"We wish Jorge the best in his semi-retirement, and hope you will also extend him your good wishes." said Paulson.

Contact: V. Olsen at 763-434-2020 or

Water Think Tank LLC is a full-scope consultancy with a focus on the global water industry business. Government and industry clients tap WTT for business strategies and programs for technology assessment and development, market entry strategy, product development, testing and performance verification, certification and regulatory compliance, and marketing, sales and distribution of water systems. The firm has deep expertise in filtration membranes for drinking water and wastewater, filter design, ion exchange, related technologies and intellectual property development.

Increasing Need plus Decreasing Quality equals More Water Treatment Business

(August 2010) - AWWA review Confirms the Obvious: the Price of Water is Rising and so is the Need for Cost Effective Treatment - More Business for the Water Treatment Industry.

Here at Water Think Tank we think public awareness, and acceptance, is reaching the tipping point.

The public and our political leaders have become aware of the growing challenges resulting from the water crisis. .These challenges are also creating more opportunities for the water industry. In a recent article in Journal AWWA, Steve Maxwell (1) details some of these challenges, including the poor quality of the United State’s water infrastructure, the necessary costs and expenditures and the general knowledge and attitudes of the public towards water. These are important themes which point to where water treatment needs to, and will, go in the next decade.

While it is true that our planet is a closed system in which water cannot be created or destroyed, viable water as a resource is becoming scarcer.  Rising populations are stressing the supply and human actions are decreasing the quality of available water across the globe.  As it becomes a precious commodity in the United States and the rest of the developed world, costs of water will inevitably continue to rise to meet its true value. This will become more obvious to its consumers.

But this commodity will have to be managed in accordance with the fact that water is not an ordinary product, but also a basic human need.

That the water industry in the United States has a severely degraded infrastructure is universally acknowledged. Conversely, industry, institutions and municipalities are being held to an expanding system of regulations. This basic conflict is another source of opportunity; making things more efficient and safe will require spending

As Maxwell affirms, the water and wastewater industry is estimated at around $120 billion per year (p107), and is consistent and almost recession-proof.  Safe, reliable water is one of the last things people will give up when economic times are hard, a fact that will hold true even as water prices rise.

The most important thing that needs to change in water treatment is how it is perceived by the general public. But this is happening now. As society at large becomes fully informed and realizes the value of something that only appears to be limitless, public policy will change as well. The prospects for water treatment improving not only domestic but global water problems will increase.

While innovative technologies, systems designs, and applications of ideas are being created every day, the likelihood of a truly major breakthrough that will revolutionize the treatment of water is remote.  The most effective solutions will include public education, incremental technical improvements in treatment, storage and distribution, streamlining government agency and regulatory approaches, and yes, money. These are all opportunities for the water-related businesses.

Water Think Tank has been following these trends, participating in shaping some, and helping our clients develop strategies to react to these changes. We remain plugged in to those agencies affecting change, and tuned into the trends in technology, regulation and demand in the water industry. Give us a call to discuss how we can help you realize and exploit your business opportunities.

(1) Maxwell, Steve.  “A look at the challenges- and opportunities- in the world water market.”  Journal AWWA 102.5  (2010): 104-116.  Electronic.

Water Science & Marketing Releases Groundbreaking POU Study

For Immediate Release
Minneapolis MN (July 23rd, 2008) - Commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Water Science and Marketing (WSM) recently completed a study identifying a limited number of commercially available point-of-use (POU) water treatment devices as effective for the removal of Perfluorochemicals PFCs) from drinking water supplies.

A new class of contaminants, referred to as PFC’s, has now been detected in drinking water supplies in Minnesota, Ohio, West Virginia, and other states. Due to the number of years of widespread, and continued use of products containing PFC’s (Teflon, Scotchgard, etc.), measurable concentrations are likely to be found in drinking water supplies throughout the US and World. While toxicity of various PFC compounds are known, third-party performance data has not been available to determine if the use of commercially available POU devices represent a viable drinking water treatment option for their removal in residential applications.

To secure this information the MDH commissioned WSM to conduct an extensive study to provide data relevant to PFC removal performance/capacity for such POU devices, in addition to, identification of factors affecting reliability, and operational characteristics/limitations. Execution of this $640,000 study required WSM to determine the theoretical bases/mechanics of PFC removal for candidate technologies and associated POU devices, create new test methodologies to ensure reliability of data, design/construct specialized test stations, and conduct both in-lab and field-testing.

WSM has released their final report on this study to the MDH. It will be published and accessible through the following link: within the next few days/weeks. This study represents the first third-party performance evaluation of its kind, and is considered groundbreaking effort in the area of performance testing for the removal of emerging health-effect contaminants of concern such as:

  • Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs),
  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs),
  • Perfluorochemicals (PFCs)
  • Nano-particles from unregulated advances in nanotechnology

WSM personnel have been directly engaged in research, new product development, performance testing, and regulatory review of these emerging contaminants for the last several years. They are advising public health protection agencies and private corporations on technical and regulatory aspects, including their removal from drinking water sources and public supplies. WSM specializes in technology evaluations and assessments for the removal of contaminants that are weakly addressed by current certification standards, or are extremely expensive to conduct through these agencies. In addition, WSM provides services related to business growth initiatives including market research, new product/technology development, training, business plan development, and identification/procurement of strategic partners.

You can contact WSM at (763) 434-2020 with questions related to MDH’s POU-PFC study, or to inquire about their various testing and consulting services.

Please, send us your thoughts at


Full Report:

Technology and Market Forecast:
At Water Science & Marketing we have strong opinions as to where things are going in fields of the water solutions industry. Our experience in these markets gives us insights into end-user demands as well as new developing water technologies and applications. This allows us to be in tune with trends, opportunities and challenges for the coming 10 years. We discuss below a few of these significant trends that we feel will impact every market participant. Our consulting services can help progressive organizations reach the crest of the wave of opportunities these markets will present. Here is our statement of trends we see impacting the direction of the industry in general. If you have a differing opinion, we would like to hear it.

Please, send us your thoughts at

1. Better, smarter membranes and filtration technologies will become available to significantly improve water treatment at drinking water and wastewater plants.

Self-cleaning membranes will enhance sewage plants. Membranes designed for specific removal of organic compounds, heavy metals, nitrates, etc. will prevent undesirable or costly environmental effects. In particular, new membrane technologies will allow the installation of low cost and high performance small water plants to supply drinking water and treat effluent wastewater treatment. These will in effect move more treatment in-house and decentralized for many governmental, industrial, and commercial institutions and suburban residential sub-divisions. On the back of these technologies, communities will move a larger portion of the treatment cost and burden to the direct beneficiary of the product or service. Also, environmental, regulatory, performance and cost issues will support the adoption of these technologies.

2. Smart, Final-Barrier Water Treatment at the point-of-entry of homes or food preparation businesses, office buildings, schools or hospitality establishments is one key area where growth will happen in water treatment.

We expect significant changes in drinking water treatment for the home. Economic reasons as well as water demands from users will drive the market. In the economic front, in the US and developed countries, billions of dollars are and will be needed to upgrade plants and the water distribution networks to shelter them from serious deterioration. These funds and the political muscle required to obtain them will be hard to obtain.

Outside the US, in countries like India, China, Brazil, Mexico or Indonesia, large populations make central processing and distribution impractical as the means to supply the general public at large. A decentralized approach will be validated by the public and regulators. Also, homeowners in the US are getting water quality savvy. They know of too many cases already where they thought that their water was safe to drink, only to find years later that a contaminant had been present all along that turned out to be harmful to human health. They have seen operator errors take place at the processing stage that contaminated water and endangered life. More users now know that since the 70’s over 30 bacteria or viruses have been found present in water supplies and which have a deleterious effect on people. These users do not trust the status quo nor want to wait for a solution. Consumers also realize that bottled water sources could be suspect and, in general, currently not better than tap water. Finally, the easy vulnerability of the water distribution network to health-threatening attacks by terrorists or deranged individuals is something consumers and regulators will want to prevent.

In developed economies, we expect consumers will want control and assurances of the water treatment quality in the form of a Final Barrier water system at home.
Technology exists today where this can be done via reliable system appliances backed by responsible service and monitoring organizations. The more progressive utilities could be drivers of the change.
Just like central air conditioning arrived in force in the 70’s, we think that final barrier water systems for individual dwellings will be coming soon, particularly driven by upscale suburban new construction, by business quality standards (i.e. coffee taste or food safety) and by existing private wells, which, in general, have water of unknown and suspect quality.

3. Regulatory agencies will open up to more decentralized water treatment and point-of-entry, point-of-use will gain respect (and regulations) along the way.

Better technologies, end user demands for water quality, the mandates from tighter standards in the Safe Drinking Water Act and the scarcity of financial resources to support the maintenance and expansion of water processing and distribution networks will all drive regulatory agencies and utilities to more readily accept decentralized treatment as an important complement towards ensuring water quality for the population. Finally, small water systems will have to find alternatives that provide end users with quality drinking water.

4. Contamination sensors will lead to smart systems. Homeland security programs will accelerate sensor technology discoveries for protecting our food and water supply chains.

In particular, our municipal water supply at home is quite vulnerable to potential threats that can compromise the lives of many. Technology and patents already exist that allow sensors to register the profile of organic, inorganic and bacterial contaminants and to enable reading the presence of contamination and alert of the danger in real-time. News about new or re-activated contaminants where none was thought present before will continue to come in. Contaminant profiling and control via new sensors will represent a quick response alternative to their harmful effects.

5. Global Issues, Global Markets, Global competitors. The making of clean water plentiful and inexpensive will probably be the most important technological challenge around the world for the next 25 to 50 years. Governments around the world will not be able to fund the huge water infrastructure project funding required to satisfy growing middle classes and industrialization.

Water desalination, (even water extraction from the air), “intelligent” filtration membranes, advanced and inexpensive water filtration and purification and technologies to raise the efficiency of water usage, will make significant strides globally. In support of these, advances in specific technologies in the areas of bacterial and contaminant sensors (described above) as well as computing and miniaturization, will drive electrical home and commercial appliances to change the global landscape in water treatment, directly and indirectly. Electrical appliance companies have been slow in capitalizing the demands for water. For example, compare the exploding bottled drinking water market, which has grown dramatically all over the world over the last few years, with the modest growth experienced by household water appliance sales that could have benefited from this growth in bottled water. A marketing company has yet to come into this market to crack this potential with meaningful end user benefits

6. A market evolution mandate for residential and commercial businesses: to go from being the “water guy” to the trusted “water technologist”.

Currently, water treatment companies and products in developed economies carry only a low level of trust from consumers and regulators. There is a significant brand equity vacuum in the market today in the dimension of trustworthiness and assured performance. This is accentuated by utilities’ damaged trust resulting, directly or indirectly, from incidences of accidents that should not have happened.

Opportunities will be significant for responsible national professionals and companies who can build an impeccable reputation of trustworthiness in the area of scientific diagnosis, treatment and continuous monitoring of the water quality in private homes, residential sub-divisions, and public and private companies and institutions. Business opportunities will abound in this new environment. But the challenges are also major. Traditional water treatment operators or retailers in North America will increasingly have to face challenges for which s/he has not been prepared. A more sophisticated selling process must be learned and adopted, and greater levels of professional and technological expertise in treatment technologies will become crucial. A more fact–based approach to marketing their products will also help them move into the new international markets.

Water Think Tank
19406 East Bethel Blvd. Cedar, Minnesota 55011
Telephone: 763-434-2020