By Donna Kreutz
Maher Aghasi graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington in the nation’s capital and immediately went to work in the water treatment industry. “I was lucky and I liked it,” he said. That was three decades ago. In 2001, Aghasi founded Pure Aqua and began designing his own solutions for the water treatment industry. Since then, the company has produced well over 9,000 systems providing clean, safe water for 3,000 premium clients in 200 countries and on every continent.
Aghasi has worked in the water treatment industry his entire career. “Right after college I became very interested in the industry. I worked with a couple of great water treatment companies, mainly as a sales engineer, before establishing my own company. Today, we are a global leader in water filtration systems technologies and methodologies.
“Water is a scarce resource and the demand for clean water is increasing because of rapid population growth. Industrial activities are also causing an increase in water contamination. A large amount of the pollution comes from industries where chemical leaks and waste spills from centuries ago still affect regions around the world today. Pure Aqua is constantly working to find solutions to the problems posed by these industries,” Aghasi said.
“Our goal as a water treatment company is to provide efficient, high-quality water treatment systems, using only top-of-the-line components, while embracing ethical business practices at every point in the design, build and delivery of our systems. I believe the industry will continue to grow as people become more aware of the importance of clean drinking water, especially in developing countries where it is not available. It is important that we mitigate as much waste and damage to the rapidly diminishing natural wonders of our planet as possible,” he said.
“We have to protect our fresh water sources for future generations. Preventing illegal dumping in rivers, lakes and oceans and conserving our groundwater are two very important steps. It is very difficult and expensive to treat contaminated water. If we protect our fresh water, we can eliminate the high costs of treating these sources.”
This global business has just 20 employees, including several family members, who work at a manufacturing facility in Santa Ana, CA. All Pure Aqua water treatment and reverse osmosis systems are engineered and manufactured there. Including Aghasi, there are seven engineers on staff.
“We are a company that has a well-rounded, multi-lingual team of passionate people behind every facet and weld going into these industrial-grade water purification systems,” Aghasi said. The company is supported by an extensive network of subcontractors. Pure Aqua is ISO9001:2015-certified.
“One thing I respect a lot about our company is we are so much into the details. We take our customers seriously. We have very good customer service. If there’s an issue, we jump into the problem and solve it. We have very fine engineering, use valuable and expensive software and work in an efficient way.”
The challenges can be extreme. In Africa, where the sun shines 10-11 hours a day, Pure Aqua solar panels generate power to operate water treatment systems that provide clean water to thousands of people in need. “It’s a good solution for some countries. We are honored to support this great need,” Aghasi said.
At the other extreme is Antarctica, the ice-covered southernmost continent where the company’s systems purify brackish water and desalinate seawater. “We designed energy-saving seawater RO systems technology, based on high-quality components, because sea water is very corrosive. Not many companies know how to design these systems. Pollution in the open seas is a growing world issue as well—dumping, industrial fishing waste and off-shore platform failures can cause damage to the biodiversity of our planet’s oceans. Pure Aqua is there to ensure that we leave the oceans better than when we found them.”
Another environmental challenge is tailings, a highly toxic sludge containing known carcinogens. “The widely used practice for tailings disposal in the mining of precious gems and metals is to create a large sludge fen and allow the water in the sludge to evaporate so the dry materials can be trucked away. In addition to the risk of chemicals like arsenic and cyanide leaking into groundwater sources, these fens often look like normal ponds, causing a large number of casualties among water birds and grazing animals.
“We help protect resources by building the most efficient systems on the market. We test efficiency and design for ‘low-footprint’ usage. Pure Aqua is not just thinking about water but about the effects that purifying it has on other resources as well. We have a true love of providing clean water.”