Given the ever-changing landscape of the water sector, we sat down with Julia Kleber, CEO of KPRN Aqua, to discuss all things water looping, conservation, recycling, and management, and how it applies to the spa and wellness industry.
How did KPRN Aqua begin and where was the idea formed?
“My background is within the tourism and travel sector and so I have spent a lot of time abroad, living in both Spain and South Africa, and I was constantly reading in the press about water scarcity or untreated water being put back into the sea, and the problem only seems to have gotten worse. And that’s the issue, we have been talking about the problem for so long, but where’s the solution?
“My business business partner has been in water and waste management for over 30 years and we decided to launch a new system together, our so called “water looping” system which could benefit countries with a higher risk of water scarcity. But we know that won’t be enough. All of us will face issues with our water at some point in the future so we need to start now.
“We’ve talked a lot about electricity and bringing that renewable technology to a consumer market, but we can live without electricity. We need water for everything. We cannot live without it, so the idea really came from seeing a problem and finding a solution to it. It’s a big issue because we need water in every industry, and in every household, so if there is no water left, what are we going to do?”
What different services do KPRN Aqua offer?
“We have a revolutionary product which we can utilise in different locations, depending on the type of water, treatment, or circumstance, but the technology remains the same. Our main focus, and one which we believe can change the whole landscape, is our “water looping” system. This a completely closed cycle that contains a finite volume of water that can be continual recycled and re-used whenever it is needed. Traditional domestic water re-use, whether for cleaning the dog or watering the garden, is commendable but you’re still being charged for that water usage, and you can’t use it again, with more fresh water needlessly is brought in.
“The closed loop system keeps the water in continual use and reduces freshwater needs by up to 90%, which if applied to everyone, would drastically prevent water scarcity, and reduce our impact on the environment. And it doesn’t compromise on quality either, with your closed loop system ensuring high quality of water with no influence from outside influences.
“However, the closed loop system isn’t the only projects we do, for example our technology is utilised in Spain to help remove certain nitrates from supply, or in Germany we’re working with a restaurant that wants to have its water supplied from the local river and we can use our technology to clean and supply it to them. We’re really proud that the water quality that we can produce from greywater is good enough for human consumption and meets German drinking water regulations.
“It really depends on what you want to use it for. We take every case individually and analyse what would be the best solution so we can optimise our technology for maximum effect. It just gives you total freedom. You don’t need to rely on your local water company, or any third-party for that matter, to help find good, clean water. People were educated about electricity and now look at the market. We need to start taking charge and hold ourselves accountable for our water, and now we can.
“We offer a rent or purchase model so that people aren’t tied into buying hardware. We purely charge per cost of cubic metre of water within the system, so you’ll no longer have a water bill to pay for having a longer shower, and it allows us to offer a variety of prices and rates that are cheaper than most European water suppliers already, so it’s an accessible and affordable solution. Everything within the system is monitored via the internet, including water quality to give users that satisfaction that their system is being looked after. We want it to be our problem to worry about so businesses or households can utilise their time somewhere else.”
What successes have you had so far?
“Since we started, we’ve had great success with greywater recycling projects in the mosques of Doha, Qatar, or the purification and mineralization of areas with little water supply in Ghana. We’re still in our infancy and we want to try and encourage more conversation and build momentum around this issue.
“We’re now actively promoting our new “water looping” system as we only launched this product in February, so we’ve got a long way to go yet. However, with the added complications of black and greywater pipes in properties, we’re having to change the narrative and understanding of the two types of water. The system is a no-brainer for new builds or renovations, but we’re working to change the way developers think, so that our technology is able for implementation on any future housing developments.”
Do you think it could apply to the spa industry?
“Without a doubt. Spas are a fantastic business with sustainability, accessibility, and wellness at the heart of everything they do. When it comes to water usage, your larger spas and health centres could lose hundreds and thousands of litres of water a day with pools, showers, treatments, laundry, constantly on the go. It might not be noticeable, but so much of that must be drained away at a high price too, so if we were to help install “water looping” in a spa it could not only save them money but have such a positive impact on the environment too. We could even add minerals and vitamins to the water too depending on the spa and what they would like. Should the water be softer? Do they want it harder? Shall we add vitamin D or something similar? We can tailor every single system to what the client needs.
“We like a challenge, and every single case is different so we do everything we can to make sure it serves its purpose. They are small machines too so for the larger facilities we could chain or link several together to satisfy the demand. Our smallest can process around 900 litres an hour, which should be enough for most, but our largest runs up to 10,000 litres an hour (10m3). It all works in decentralised systems.”
How well do you think the spa/wellness industry is currently doing when it comes to utilising water efficiently and sustainably?
“Water hasn’t entered the consumer consciousness as much as electricity and some of the other renewables. People know to re-use water for their garden, for example, but there’s so much more than needs to be done, especially in the tourism, travel, and hospitality sector. We want to be able to visit a spa without worrying whether we’re using too much water. People sometimes have a longer shower or enjoy a bath on holiday because it’s not their water and they aren’t paying for it outright, but that has to come from somewhere. You don’t want to be in a spa feeling bad about yourself, so we can help to change that and put people at ease.
“The industry has already done so much to carbon offset trips or encourage zero-emissions facilities which is great, but we want to help them improve even more. Image if a spa had a closed loop with the water recycling continuously, there’d be no need to be water conscious and you’d still be saving the planet. Spas are a good benchmark for sustainability and by getting more interest from the industry, we can showcase the technology to spa consumers and use the spas to help promote water conservation into the public consciousness. We can’t keep relying on the government or public sector to find the solutions for us, the private sector can do much to help ourselves already.”
What do you think the future holds for water conservation and recycling? Will there be a water revolution?
“I think there is already one happening because never before has there been so much discussion around sustainability, especially within the consciousness of consumers to look out for more eco-conscious options. It’s really pleasing to see booking companies like Spabreaks or Spa Escape highlighting the more sustainable options on their websites. Not just that, the message is starting to get across to people that it’s not just an African or Middle Eastern problem, water scarcity is a global issue.
“The UK and Germany have seen periods of drought in recent summers despite being known for their rain, and so I expect it to become more and more commonplace as time moves on. Organisations and businesses have got away with “greenwashing” – the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about environmental credentials – for far too long, to the point now that things must change, and radically too. With more and more collaboration and conversation, we can start to see a real change happening and we need both the private sector and governments to start working closer together to implement some long-term solutions to a problem that is getting closer year-on-year.”
Visit https://www.kprn-aqua.com/ to find out more about Julia’s work across the globe.