Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Student fosters wastewater solutions

Nov. 5, 2014

By Rumasa Noor

The issue of wastewater management is faced by a multitude of cities in the world, especially the ones with a rapid population growth.

Earlier this year, UW-Whitewater students Chesten Kesselhon and Stacey Kaye participated in the Wetskills Water Challenge, an international competition that allows students to develop innovative concepts and find solutions for water-related issues around the world. The two students were part of separate teams; Kesselhon’s team ended up winning the challenge.

The competition attracts international students from all across the world. It took place at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, in June 2014.

Kesselhon’s team, Water Holistics, offered a solution for the sewage issues faced by Guelph, Canada.

Kesselhon said the city is looking to expand their wastewater treatment facility. His team’s idea recommended the city should use decentralized wastewater system instead of a centralized one.

“I pitched about a holistic approach to water treatment. It was a zero discharge decentralized wastewater treatment system that was proposed for the city of Guelph to implement,” Kesselhon said. “We worked on our case for two weeks trying to develop an argument for why our solution should be applied to this issue.”

Linda Reid, the director of UW-W’s Institute for Water Business brought up the competition to Kesselhon, and he agreed to do it. Rich Meeusen, CEO of Badger Meter and UW-W alumnus, funded their trip to Canada.

Kesselhon said he is grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this competition. But Wetskills was not the only competition Kesselhon competed in.

He works for Stonehouse Water Technologies, a startup that develops water storage products, and is also seeking to improve the quality and access of water in developing countries.

The company participated in Marquette University-sponsored The Good Money Challenge and has qualified for the finals in which Kesselhon will be presenting the pitch.

Kesselhon started working for the startup at the end of last year. He learned about it through Reid as well.

He was working as an intern at the Institute of Water Business. Reid thought he would be a good match for the company, so she assigned him to Stonehouse.

The competition is for the people with innovative business ideas that have a significant social and environmental impact.

Kesselhon said his team’s idea leans more toward the social aspect of the competition since it deals with providing clean water for urban areas of developing countries.

The concept he is presenting is called the Water POD. POD stands for portable on demand.

“It is a decentralized micro water utility system that can take raw water from any lake, stream, or well and make it drinkable,” Kesselhon said.

“We’ve taken the water utility supply and shrunk it down to a standalone single unit that can serve about 2,000 people daily with premium drinking water.”

Kesselhon said their target audience is the “low-income communities in urban areas of developing countries” such as Lagos, Nigeria, Tanzania and a few other countries as well.

“We would ultimately like to sell these units to governments in these countries,” Kesselhon said.

“Citizens that reside in these locations can purchase clean water via a prepaid water debit card by going up to the Water POD with a container and have clean water dispensed.”

He said a big benefit of this system is stakeholders will be able to receive their payments even before providing services.

Kesselhon said winning the challenge would help raise the money for the company,.

Kesselhon said the water-focused ideas for Wetskills and The Good Money Challenge are significant to him as well.

“These ideas are very important to me because they represent what could be the future for water decontamination and purification technologies,” Kesselhon said. “Both ideas take on a decentralized approach and this is a hot topic for the water sector. I believe we are headed in this direction for the future.”

Kesselhon graduated from UW-W in May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Science and Business with an emphasis on Water. He is now a post-baccalaureate student preparing to become a Certified Public Accountant.

He said the Integrated Science and Business program helped him prepare for these competitions.

“I feel fortunate to have these opportunities, especially with the Wetskills Challenge, the opportunity came to me and I am really glad I went,” Kesselhon said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect; it was a little bit more involved than I anticipated.”


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Founded 1901
Student fosters wastewater solutions