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    Gary Warner, Executive Vice President of Tonka Water interviews with Water Online at WEFTEC 2013

    How Radium Removal, Ion-exchange Processes, and Backwash Waste Removal Leads to a Higher Level of Purity.

    Read our interview below or listen to the live interview.

    Water Online Radio: Gary, how does Tonka Water serve the market?

    Gary: Well, Tonka Water is focused primarily on treating surface water and ground water. We consider ourselves a solution provider. We have a broad product line that we customize to address specific water issues that a community may face. We consider ourselves innovators, as EPA adds new regulations. Tonka Water has a history of developing new technologies to address those changes.

    One of the technologies is radium removal using pre-formed, pre-mixed hydrous manganese oxide. We brought that to market in 2000, and it’s is still a viable technology today.

    We’ve also developed new technologies to improve treatment plant operations and extend life of equipment. A good example of that is our Simul-Wash™ process, which reduces backwash waste for communities and reduces their cost of operation.

    Water Online Radio: Why did you choose to re-brand Tonka Water, and how is it going?

    Gary: Well, originally, Tonka Water was incorporated as Tonka Equipment Company. We decided to change our name because it really did not identify the market that we serve. We knew we wanted to maintain Tonka in our name, and we wanted to make sure people understood what we did.

    We also changed our logo. Historically, we had used a water drop. We tried to maintain some of those historical elements of the brand while updating the image. We kept the use of the water drop but we gave it a more updated look.

    We also changed our tag line to “trusted systems and resourceful thinking,” and this is now fully incorporated throughout the organization, our sales and marketing materials, and our website.

    Water Online Radio: How has the market responded to it?

    Gary: The market has responded very favorably. Our organization is very positive about it. We did the right thing by re-branding Tonka Water.

    Water Online Radio: How does that all fit in with key trends in the market place?

    Gary: Right now, communities want to save water and reduce their footprint. By re-branding, we have been able to come up with some new products that help that focus.

    Water Online Radio: Tell us about the Pur-IX™ system.

    Gary: Pur-IX™  is a unique product. It’s an ion-exchange system that uses a multi-port valve and numerous vessels. The concept behind it is that the vessels regenerate consistently throughout their operation.

    This produces higher-quality water than a conventional ion exchange process. We also reduced the amount of waste that is produced in the operation of the unit. That serves the community well by meeting the requirement of reduced waste and higher quality affluent. It also creates a smaller footprint than a conventional ion exchange system.

    Water Online Radio: What kind of a financial impact is the Pur-IX™ system going to have on a treatment plant?

    Gary: Well, from a cost of operation standpoint, it is going to have a significant impact. The capital cost is going to be a little more expensive than conventional, but the payback is fairly quick due to its reduced cost of operation. That is a very effective system.

    Water Online Radio: Why are you investing time and energy into an event like this? What is the value to you and what are your major goals and objectives here?

    Gary: We view WEFTEC as a very important conference. We are primarily a water company. We don’t manufacture wastewater products necessarily, but all of our representatives come to this conference. A number of our clients come to this conference as well. There is clearly a cross-over between water and wastewater, so we find it very valuable to come to this conference. The other thing that is important for us this year is that we our rolling out our re-branding nationally and we have a new booth that we are showing this year. It’s all about communicating who we are and getting that message out in front of people that are in the market of people we serve.

    Water Online Radio: After nearly four decades with Tonka Water, I feel like you may have a story or two to tell. Thinking back over your career, can you share with us a challenging problem a customer had and how Tonka Water helped to solve it.

    Gary: There have been a few. I think the one that brings the most pride is the work that we have done in the development and promotion of removing radium from water. In 1999, 2000 time frame the USEPA came out with a new regulation for removing radium. We teamed up with a professor from the University of Iowa, Dr. Valentine who had done some research for the removal of radium.  All of his research was based and constructed in the form of academia and we needed to take that technology and bring it to the municipal market in a viable, functional, cost-effective way. We did that by producing the technology for using a pre-formed, pre-mixed HMO (hydrous manganese oxide). The very first installation that was installed nationwide was here in Channahon, Illinois. We installed and commissioned that first installation and reduced their radium to well below the primary standard. They have since put in a second treatment system and that system is also removing radium below the primary standard. We are very proud of that technology, of innovating that technology and bringing it to the market in a way that’s very useful. We now have hundreds of installations across the country that are successfully removing radium from water.    

    Water Online Radio: We love hearing those success stories, great stuff. Where can people get in touch with you and learn more about Tonka Water?

    Gary: The best place to learn more about us our get in contact with us is