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Growing need for clean water drives company expansion

Global Hydration , a Thunder Bay water purification company, is gaining a foothold in the mining industry and northern Manitoba.
Global Hydration's Ian Moorey assembles a transportable water purification system at it's new headquarters in Thunder Bay.

Global Hydration, a Thunder Bay water purification company, is gaining a foothold in the mining industry and northern Manitoba.

Since 2001, the nimble eight-employee company made its mark by supplying bottled water, portable water treatment plants and water purification tablets to emergency first responders and international relief agencies.

Now it's latching on to some low-hanging fruit by delivering water treatment solutions to the mineral exploration sector and to remote Aboriginal communities.

The company has secured a contract to install a water purification system for Cliffs Natural Resources at its Ring of Fire exploration camp in the James Bay lowlands.

“The mining industry is pretty hot right now,” said president Andrew Moorey, whose company has installed mini-water treatment plants with Detour Gold at Cochrane and with Gold Canyon Resources, north of Sioux Lookout.

The system installed for Cliffs will provide 50,000 litres per day for a camp that can accommodate 200, said Moorey.

“Once it's up and running, the camp will have full access to more water than they could ever want.”

Moorey admits it has been turning away from its traditional clients because of onerous public sector procurement practices that can take up up to three years. The resource industry makes more immediate decisions.

“We like it because they move a lot quicker than some of the other markets we're involved in.”

Owned by brothers Andrew and Ian Moorey, Global Hydration is a spinoff of the family water bottling business, Kakabecka Crystal Spring Water.

They used their water purification expertise to invent a more compact and mobile solution that can quickly respond to municipal water emergencies.

It's transportable Can Pure water purification system uses microfiltration and chlorination to eliminate micro-organisms, viruses, bacteria and any swampy smells. Water pumped from any source can be made drinkable.

The systems can come off-the-shelf for a fast deployment or are custom built according to client specifications.

They bill it as a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly solution to flying in pallets of bottled water into a remote location.

Moorey said the cost of transporting bottled water can range between 70 and 80 cents a litre, as opposed to a penny a litre for their purification systems.

A growing demand for these systems has prompted the company to move twice in two years, mostly recently into a 3,000-square-foot space at the former Hillcrest High School in the city's north end.

They've also made inroads into Manitoba where they installed a treatment system on a remote First Nation community of 150.

As part of a pilot program with Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, the company delivered a telephone booth-sized treatment plant to the community of Seymourville that's capable of producing 48,000 litres per day.

As a Canadian distributor of the Dutch-made Pentair water treatment systems, Global Hydration tweaked its design, usually deployed as a temporary fix during humanitarian disasters, to deliver a more permanent installation.

“The community was faced with an aging plant that they had to swap out,” said Moorey. The cost ranged between $350,000 and $380,000.

“Our solution came in at under $100,000. They're quite impressed and it's brought us a lot of attention,” said Moorey, who's selecting a Manitoba distributor to focus on municipal campgrounds, First Nation communities and remote industry.

While doors are opening in Manitoba, Moorey finds it tough to break into Ontario where Aboriginal communities are often faced with boil water advisories and ineffective water treatment plants.

Moorey is diplomatic when describing the “multi-faceted” challenges of making inroads into, what can be, a messy market.

“It's a sensitive topic, but there's so much politics and regulations that make it a challenge. Everybody knows that the need is there for water treatment across Canada.”

Moorey said the next big push is delivering a purification solution geared to the home and cottage sector when they launch a web marketing and trade show campaign in the next little while.

“We have some interesting things in the pot that are going to boil soon.”

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