By Ari Goldfarb, Co-Founder and CEO of Kando
Don’t be complacent with an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality when it comes to our polluted oceans. It won’t do you any good.
The world’s oceans, with their vast expanses and endless ecosystems, are the well of life for our planet. Without them, the Earth cannot live.
Yet many still turn a blind eye to the unconscionable amounts of plastic and other waste materials contaminating these waters. An enormous portion of these contaminants originate from human wastewater, also known as sewage. Because many ocean pollutants are released out of view by coastal beachgoers, the problem goes almost unnoticed by the general public.
But surfers like myself have become sadly familiar with these contaminants. We know firsthand just how valuable pristine waters are not only for our surfing hobby, but to the environment, economy, and our health and well-being.
I began surfing at an early age along the coastal shores of Ashkelon, Israel – where I grew up. My love and appreciation for the sea soon followed. After witnessing the sea fall victim to an incomprehensible amount of contamination over the years, I decided to devote my career to promoting safe water use and disposal.
And so, I founded Kando, a company dedicated to understanding what’s in our water and using data-driven insights to improve the quality of people’s lives.
Unfortunately, 80% of sewage seeps into the environment untreated – a staggering amount. Even when sewage does cycle through a wastewater treatment facility, contaminated water can still be prematurely discharged out to sea due to a variety of factors such as aging infrastructure, facility malfunctions, and heavy rains that trigger sewer overflows.
Typical sewage contains dozens of harmful components which combine to degrade natural ecosystems and compromise the health of bathers who unintentionally swallow seawater.
Given the total-time surfers spend in contact with the water and their tendency to surf during periods of poor water quality, they are at the highest risk for health complications ranging from gastrointestinal illnesses and ear, eye, throat, and skin infections to more life-threatening risks such as hepatitis and E-Coli.
I didn’t want innocent folks to fall ill from something so preventable.
Surfing gave me an intrinsic appreciation for the sea near my house and for the rest of the world’s oceans – where untreated wastewater had no business being. And as such, I understood just how impactful it could be to harness the power of technology to map its flow and create effective countermeasures to our polluting ways.
Israel: The Water Tech Capital of the World
Only a small share of the planet’s water resources meet the sanitation requirements for safe human consumption – a supply further diminished by various infrastructural flaws, population growth, and continued industrialization. Luckily, this is not the case in my home country, Israel.
Israel prioritized water technology innovation from its inception to overcome the challenges of its unforgiving arid climate and limited freshwater resources, and, accordingly, to reclaim its wastewater for future use before being released out to sea. Currently, Israel’s wastewater reclamation capacity far surpasses that of any other country.
The level of innovation in smart irrigation, biological wastewater treatment, desalination, and remote leak detection in Israel inspired me to devote my energy to advancing Israel’s water management network. Big-data analytics, IoT, and AI have all led this category to become one of the most sophisticated in the realm of water tech.
Guiding Passions: data-driven insights to change lives
My goal was to empower communities and authorities with the proper data to take action against all instances of untreated wastewater being dumped into our oceans and inform effective remediation efforts, ensuring the health and safety of the surfing community, and far, far beyond.
Water is a fundamental part of our DNA, and ensuring its peak quality allows surfers and the communities they come from to experience the endless joys the sea has to offer without the health hazards untreated wastewater exposes them to.
I would advise any aspiring entrepreneur to turn their passion into a reality and see what an ocean of opportunity that leads to.
*As published on Geektime