Loves Park company finds steady stream of demand for its water purification technology


LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — A Loves Park company is using innovation and some new technology to make sure people have clean drinking water.

John Barelli is the President and Founder of Water Surplus, located at 726 Beacon Street. To listen to him talk is to get an education in water purification.

“So, at the membrane interface, we put a coating of a polymer that is attracted to water, and that water barrier creates efficiency for the membrane,” he explained. “It travels around the membrane and they’re layered and then glued, and they all converge and exit into this permeated pipe.”

What seems so simple — cleaning water — is a very complex process, the key of which resides in cartridges Water Surplus uses, which come from California.

“These particular modules have come out of Orange County, which is one of the biggest water re-use/recharge systems in the country,” Barelli said.

There’s a membrane inside the cartridge which filters the water, but once the membrane wears out, the cartridge is useless.

“The reality is: fouling is a huge problem,” Barelli said.

That’s where Barelli and his team at Water Surplus come in.

“We are membrane specialists,” he explained. “We work in the purification of water, both for drinking water in the municipal market [and] another big segment is the beverage market. We work with utilities, mining companies, power companies, and we do some general wastewater treatment.”

The company refurbishes the cartridges and gets them back in service.

“This is a big part of our sustainability push, keeping these out of the landfill. Every element that gets saved gets put into a project where it’s recycling water,” said Barelli.

The cities of Rockford and Loves Park are two of Water Surplus’ municipal customers. It also just recently landed a big project with a “major” beverage company.

Water Surplus has been around for about 30 years, and has spent roughly the last ten in its Loves Park facility.

“We kind of came full circle,” Barelli said. “We started with new equipment. Then, we really focused on used [equipment.] And, through that marketplace creation, the demand for solutions and new equipment came back around, and that’s when we started to really grown and hire people.”

Many of Water Surplus’ employees work in “Building 2,” the company’s development and testing center.

Team members put equipment through its paces before it is delivered to customers.

They also test innovative technology, like nanotechnology, namely the membrane coating that Water Surplus is developing.

“Now that we’ve come up with…implementing these solutions, we’re getting a lot of traction, a lot of customer interest, because so many people have operating issues to keep their membranes efficiently an effectively running,” Barelli said.

Water Surplus just recently made a presentation on the nanotech coating at the Global Water Summit in London.

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