William Cox lives on the Indian River Lagoon, the largest estuary in the United States where water quality concerns often top the list of political priorities. Before moving to Brevard County, he helped multi-billion dollar petroleum companies engineer processes to dissolve toxic, hazardous buildup in the safest and most cost-effective way. Cox recently worked with seasoned technologists to develop KationX, a nontoxic powder used by wastewater treatment facilities to instantly dissolve muck and improve water reuse best practices.
Cox said that he hopes to work with just as many privately-owned wastewater treatment facilities as government-owned facilities because KationX reduces the cost and risk traditionally associated with any kind of water treatment.
“When these facilities become profit centers – and they do when they are run properly,” Cox said. “It means new discretionary funding exists for city infrastructure, education, and any number of things that city officials are cutting from budgets today.”
He said while this type of solution is a “no brainer” for leaders in the petroleum industry, he is frustrated with how difficult it has been to make early-stage sales in his own community and throughout the State of Florida.
In 2016, residents in the county voted to approve $302 million taxes over 10 years to reduce pollutants, remove muck, restore water filtering ecosystems, and “respond to changing conditions”. Florida State Governor Ron Desantis approved an additional $240 million to further optimize water infrastructure statewide this year, signaling the first phase of a larger executive order for $3.5 billion over four years toward the restoration and protection of water resources, the highest level of funding in Florida’s history.
“Cities like Atlanta and Nashville get it and they are customers of ours,” Cox said. “But for some reason I think brand new innovations in technology are more respected when they come from outside Florida. It’s like a ‘the grass is always a greener kind’ of thing.”
Beyond partnering with wastewater treatment facilities, Cox plans to partner with as many disability agencies as possible. He said the KationX formula is so simple and safe to use and that people who have disabilities, like his son, can manufacture and use the entire product line.
“Getting our company A-1 certified was a big, big deal,” Cox said. “People with disabilities across the country can now manufacture and use this Made-in-USA product just like we are doing with the Brevard Achievement Center today.”
Darren Allen is a wastewater treatment operator in London, Kentucky. Allen was born with the full use of only one arm and has one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. He says he does not identify as someone with a disability because it does not stop him from doing anything he needs to do. Allen was one of the first operators to take part in a KationX trial despite being somewhat skeptical of the claims made by Cox.
“I watched [Cox] eat the product so, no, it is definitely not toxic,” Allen said. “And I was shocked, honestly, I was surprised that it really did work just like he said. We dumped the powder in the afternoon and the next morning the intake was clean, good as new.”
Allen is responsible for treating five million gallons of raw sewage produced by 8,000 residents in London each day. He said needles, razorblades, and any other solid you might imagine ends up in raw sewage. When solids are combined with high levels of fat and grease, the intake pump can fail. A failure is expensive and requires that Allen’s team teamwear HAZMAT suits and use toxic chemicals and shovels to break up the solid matter before calling a vacuum truck to suck up the muck.
“It usually takes about a week to break up the solids,” Allen said. “I have never been injured on the job, but operators do get injured while treating the raw sewage to get crystal clear water running back to the streams and such again.”
Cox said he is not giving up on Florida and believes more people locally will see the value of KationX as he works with more and more operators like Allen who “get it” outside state lines.
“This is one of the best parts of my job,” Cox said, holding up a photo of himself in a company polo with a frog on his shoulder. “That frog would never make it using the toxic chemicals operators use today, but when we use our product the wildlife is animated all around us and it is a special moment that makes the operators and supervisors all laugh. The difference we make for the environment and the community is what keeps me going.”