On October 13, the City of Phoenix concluded a partnership agreement with Kando, an Israeli wastewater intelligence company, that has subsidiaries and customers in the United States and around the world, on a six-month pilot program to help the fifth-largest city in the country better detect contaminating events, through its software data platform, in the local wastewater system and react to it before extensive repercussions could result to the system and regional residents.

If the pilot program is successful, the partnership between Phoenix and Kando can be extended as well as potentially in other local areas in Arizona.

Advertisement

From Mayor Kate Gallego’s Twitter Account.

In announcing the agreement on October 13, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego posted on social media:

“Today, we strengthen AZ’s economic relationship with Israel through Kando. The data intelligence company will install a wastewater monitoring system to detect issues in wastewater and track the source. This ensures our wastewater is viable for treatment and reuse in the future.”

In response to a request for more information on this partnership between Kando and Phoenix, Alexandra (Alex)Wallach, the head of Business and Development Strategy for Kando in the United States, and Christine Nunez, the Environmental Programs Coordinator for the Environmental Services Division at the City of Phoenix, graciously took the time to answer questions about this new venture.

The questions and their responses are below.

  • Please tell us a little bit about Kando and what it brings in terms of scientific expertise to the Phoenix area.

 Alex Wallach: “Kando started a little over ten years ago, and we are wastewater collection network experts. Most of our employees have a background in engineering & wastewater. What we understood as a company early on, is that wastewater treatment plants have so much burden on their shoulders and are only able to be reactive. We wanted to bring a solution to the table that will enable utilities to take a proactive approach, which is something that is new to the industry. We’ve been to turn on the lights in a system that’s been dark since the Roman Aqua Ducks and put eyes and ears in the system upstream. That way utilities can actually have an idea of what’s coming their way before it happens so they can react to it.”

“Then, in general, understanding the behavior of their collection network, the trends, and the wastewater behavior just so utilities can better utilize their resources most effectively and prepare, whether it’s for infrastructure needs, immediate fires that are coming their way, or being able to pinpoint the source upstream and identify where these pollutant/contamination events are coming from.”

“That’s the solution and partnership we are so excited to bring to Phoenix.”

Christine: Do you want to add anything to Alex’s answer before I do a couple brief follow-ups?

Christine Nunez: “I agree with what Alex said” we are looking to be more proactive versus reactive. And if we can find out more information that’ll help us become more familiar with those collection system discharges, then that is what we’re looking for.”

Kando is an Israeli company, correct? Can you tell the readers where else, in addition to Phoenix, Kando has operations?

Alex Wallach: “Kando is an Israeli company. We’re also a US subsidiary, so we have our own US division as well. In the United States, we have operations in El Paso, Texas. We’ve done projects in Houston, Cincinnati, and a few others that hopefully in a month or two you’ll be hearing about elsewhere in the world. We’re in Australia, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy.”

  • With regards to wastewater treatment, please advise what is the scope of Kando’s responsibilities with the City of Phoenix?

Alex Wallach: “It’s going to be similar to what we mentioned of the capabilities of what we do. The goal within Phoenix is to reduce industrial loading to the wastewater treatment plants and have that early warning to the plants to really be able to adjust their treatment and avoid plant upsets, to keep everything smooth and running the way that it should with minimal additional costs. Of course, when pollution is detected, the staff in real-time is able to see that something is coming their way so they can make appropriate decisions about what to do about that even if it’s just getting the wastewater treatment prepared to handle something like that, and then of course just limiting the contamination damage and really improve the treatment outcomes of the treatment plant overall.”

Christine Nunez: “I would just add that this initial scope is, we’re looking at three specific areas and several sampling units that are going to be placed with the ability to perform actual sampling in two to three areas to see how it works. And they have also retained a local contractor that we’ve worked with in the past to operate and maintain the units. I think it’s going to be a very good partnership.”

What does Kando provide that a local similar company cannot?

Christine Nunez: “There hasn’t been this type of device. There have been flowing monitoring devices, but not really quality monitoring devices that have been accurate and successful in collection systems. So, Kando is supposed to be able to do that and that’s something that we’re going to check out and see how it works and if it’s successful, we plan on using it within our entire system. We have a very large collection system and being able to be notified in advance and being able to follow up and possibly prevent in the future those instances or those issues, that is what we are looking for.”

Alex Wallach: “I’ll take a second just to distinguish the service that we’re providing. The devices that we have are actually not that special. They’re off-the-shelf, basic sensors that we are utilizing; what’s really special about what we do is in our proprietary software and machine learning capabilities that can take the data from those basic sensors and, like a 6000-piece puzzle, put a whole picture together of what’s happening in real-time. We have collected over 10 years of wastewater data worldwide and are able to then analyze and identify when there is an active pollution event happening in the system and its source. Our unique solution provides an uninterrupted picture of the collection network and enables utilities to make data-driven decisions.”

  • Please advise at least two ways this partnership with Kando will help the residents of Phoenix.

Alex Wallach: “I would say the most immediate in addition to what we’ve already talked about reducing industrial waste and contamination, it’s going to be less burden on the taxpayers when you can save money in the treatment process which most people don’t really think about after they flush the toilet. What happens after that fact. It’s pretty costly to handle and to make sure that the safety of the population in the community is taken care of properly, and we’re going to be able to help reduce those costs that are back on the community in addition to increasing the safety of the public.”

“I was told a story about how one of the fire departments in Phoenix had to close down because there were so many hydrocarbons that were dumped into the system that it exceeded safety standards. They had to shut down for several hours due to that. If they could have been alerted prior to that, perhaps that shutdown could have been avoided and it would be a safer situation for the department’s not closed.”

Christine Nunez: “In addition to the public health and safety, the reuse of reclaimed water is a factor here, especially with our drought situation. We’ve been reusing water for decades here in Arizona. It’s not unusual but we don’t want any contamination in the water or any contaminants that restrict the ability to be able to reuse the water as well as the biosolids wastewater produces, as part of the removal process in the wastewater treatment plant.”

Alex Wallace: “Those biosolids will eventually at least in part be land applied. And so, we want to make sure that the quality of what’s being land applied is going to meet those standards and be the highest quality when that is actually utilized for that.”

So, kind of an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure approach.

Christine Nunez: “Yes. That would be accurate.”

  • When will the system be in place and how much in dollars will it cost?

Alex Wallach: “We expect to be starting to gather the data in, January of 2023, so very soon and the approved budget for this project is up to $1.78 million in the next five years.”

Is this coming from general City of Phoenix funds or coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or any other legislation?

Christine Nunez: “The project is being paid for out of the Wastewater Capital Improvement Program Funds.”

  • Please advise at least two ways this partnership with Kando will help the Phoenix environment.

Alex Wallach: “Of course, just reducing the pollutants will help minimize the impacts to Salt River, the Roosevelt Irrigation District, the Palo Verde Nuclear plant, and other reuses to really try to just make good decisions and, and have cleaner environmental impact through what we’re doing.”

Christine Nunez: “I would just add that, it basically creates a full circle of the water cycle. We just help Mother Nature get there, but it creates that full water cycle so that it’s reused. Reuse, reduce, recycle, and you bring it back to the front eventually. That’s the goal?”

How will this partnership help, if anything, with the current drought conditions in the area?

Christine Nunez: “Any improvements that we can make to the water quality the utilization of the treatment plant just makes the water a more feasible use for a variety of things. Currently, we use it for a lot of things, but we’re evaluating direct portable water reuse in some areas and this may help with some of those efforts.”

  • Is there anything not covered in the first five questions you would like the readers to know about the Phoenix partnership with Kando?

Christine Nunez: “I’m excited about it. I’ve been in the industry for 32 years and having a product that can do this, to alert us and help us will just be better, I think that is always our goal.”

Alex Wallach: “We’re really excited. We’re a company that has a big vision. We have a big mission. We want to effect a positive change in local communities and individual people and how they live their lives, whether it’s cleaner air or cleaner water. We want to be a part of that impact. We’re just really excited to have such an incredible partner like Phoenix that has a similar vision and is going to bring that to their city.”

Is Kando currently looking at other Arizona cities or towns right now to operate in, or is Phoenix the pilot program for Arizona right now?

Alex Wallach: “Phoenix is absolutely the starting point of the market entry in Arizona. But there are other utilities we are speaking with who see the benefit of what we do, and we’ll hope to continue those conversations. We believe in creating true partnerships, relationships, and to be a partner utilities can count on, and I believe that reputation precedes us.”

Please click here to find out more information on Kando and its projects in the United States and around the world.

Advertisement