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Located in Louisiana, about 50 miles inland of New Orleans on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, Abita Springs is a natural artesian spring that draws from a massive aquifer under St. Tammany Parish. The word “Abita” comes from the native Choctaw, meaning “healing waters.” Legend has it that the mineral-rich water from the Abita artesian spring has natural healing powers, perhaps stemming from its antioxidant content. The town of Abita Springs rose up among the trees along the shore of the lake, and citizens and visitors alike enjoyed the healthy mineral water for generations.
In late August 2005, the town of Abita Springs was covered in muck and debris, and filled with a sense of desperation and widespread destruction after Hurricane Katrina. Polluted, salty water from Katrina’s wake flooded through St. Tammany Parish and the hundreds of individual wells in the region. The power and nature of the water in Abita had changed. What would it take to restore it?
Bo Reily, president of Abita Springs Water Co., a local bottler distributing this legendary water around the greater New Orleans region, stood in front of his eVamor Products, Inc. bottling plant, which had been completely destroyed. In the midst of such chaos and primitive conditions, Reily knew he needed to pick his company and his community back up off the ground.
“I had some product in satellite warehouses,” Reily said, “but I had to get production going instantly.” But Reily, as those acquainted with post-Katrina insurance and reconstruction issues may guess, was unable to rebuild his plant right away.
Abita Springs Water supplies bottled water all around the region, especially to New Orleans. How could Reily process and disinfect his water with ozone and distribute it to the people who needed it without a plant?
Thankfully, Reily already had the key part of the solution in hand—a Pacific Ozone Technology Integrated Ozone Contact System. This rugged, stainless steel system provides each integral step of effective ozone generation and application in one performance package: feed gas preparation, ozone generation, Enhanced Mass Transfer ozone contacting, off-gas decomposition and integrated complete ozone system control.
“We store our water in silos and make sure it has an ozone pass,” Reily said of his plant’s temporarily interrupted plant treatment process. “It’s amazing how it works—our silos are just pristine.”
Reily is well acquainted with ozone disinfection, partially because of Abita Springs’ unique water composition: It has a mineral content of about 160 ppm, a pH of about 8.3 and is “pretty darn warm” coming out of the ground, according to Reily.
Reily’s eVamor Products, a specialty division of Abita Springs Water, boasts even higher mineral enrichment, providing more alkalinity for a balanced pH in the body.
“Abita Springs has all of the things that make it difficult to ozonate water,” Reily said. With the right system engineering, however, including 25-ft contact tanks and careful addition of key alkaline minerals, eVamor was able to utilize ozone as a solution, despite overcoming more obstacles than the average U.S. bottler, 95% of whom currently use ozone for disinfection.
Reily needed a way to keep his water plugged into the power of ozone, but he didn’t have a factory to perform the task. He came up with a way to produce the mineral-enriched bottled water without the benefit of permanent plant facilities and resources. Using a trailer and the compact, yet powerful ICS060 Integrated Ozone Contact System from Pacific Ozone Technology, Reily constructed a mobile water production system. One-half of the trailer serves as a water laboratory to analyze the source and product water, and the other half houses the mineral injection and ozonation processes that are so crucial to eVamor water. With the ICS060 trailer system, Reily was able to get eVamor back up and running.
Restoration and construction is still occurring in Abita Springs, and, according to Reily, there are still years of work left. “Our plant is still in limbo,” Reily said. “We’re fighting the insurance companies like everybody else.”
But the need to get another plant online isn’t quite as pressing as one might think. The powerful solution offered by ozone allowed eVamor to be creative in its production, and what once was a temporary stop-gap may now become a permanent feature in eVamor’s production capability. The mobile ICS ozone trailer is proving quite effective, and Reily hopes to find a place for it in the new face of eVamor water.
“Hopefully, when I build my plant, I’ll just park this thing on the side and use it as-is,” Reily said, noting the trailer’s utility and flexibility.
By reacting quickly in the face of a challenging environment and responding to adversity with an evolutionary solution, Reily was able to meet the need for a steady and increasing supply of clean, healthy water. Demand surged after Katrina, surpassing previous sales levels. “We’re still selling more than we did before the hurricane,” Reily noted, “without any marketing.”