SePRO has been in the aquatic chemicals business for nearly three decades. During that time, it has expanded from its original focus on canals and irrigation infrastructure to encompass municipal reservoirs and water supplies as well. In this interview, Sam Barrick, SePRO’s vice president of marketing, tells Municipal Water Leader about the company’s work in the municipal sector and the products and services it provides.
Municipal Water Leader: Please tell us about your background and how you came to be in your current position.
Sam Barrick: I am the vice president of marketing of SePRO and have been working here for 18 years. I grew up on a small farm in Muscatine, Iowa. We grew mostly corn and soybeans and raised some livestock. I went to school at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, with a focus on agricultural business. I graduated in 1984 and went into the chemical industry, working primarily with corn and soybeans and later moving into the specialty markets for fruits, nuts, vegetables, and specialty crops. A variety of different roles and responsibilities ultimately led me to SePRO, where I now focus on managing all aspects of water quality, invasive weed management, algae, and harmful algal blooms.
Municipal Water Leader: Please tell our readers about the history of SePRO.
Sam Barrick: SePRO was started roughly 27 years ago when our founder was presented an opportunity to acquire a few specialty products that were considered niche chemistries by the large manufacturers. He saw that managing and protecting water was always going to be important, given its role in food production in the West. He started the company to meet the need for products to manage harmful algal blooms in water reservoirs and invasive aquatic weeds that grow in lakes, rivers, and irrigation canals. It started from that and has grown into a world-class organization.
Municipal Water Leader: Please tell our readers about SePRO’s history with municipal water supply.
Sam Barrick: When SePRO started, we were initially focused on managing water reservoirs, lakes, and ponds. Over time, as new technologies became available, we shifted our focus to help manage many municipal water reservoir areas. We have added people, technologies, and expertise. That has made us confident that we can help people bring better water into the plant so they can deliver better water out of the plant.
Municipal Water Leader: What are some of the SePRO products that municipal water managers would be most familiar with?
Sam Barrick: Municipal water managers are likely familiar with PAK 27 or Phycomycin. These products are peroxide-based chemistries that quickly eliminate cyanobacteria from water. Both are NSF-registered and Organic Materials Review Institute–listed products. We also have another NSF-approved product called SeClear, which is an algaecide and water quality enhancer. It is the only product in the industry that controls algae and sequesters phosphorus at the same time. It has been used in several municipal water scenarios to improve the quality of influent water. We also have several chelated copper algaecides, including CaptainXTR and Cutrine, which are generally not used in municipal water areas but are great for using in the reservoir before the water comes into the plant. In addition to our comprehensive algaecide portfolio, we have two phosphorus-mitigation technologies that effectively manage excess phosphorus in water resources, Phoslock and EutroSORB.
Municipal Water Leader: What should every municipal water manager know about working with SePRO?
Sam Barrick: They should know that we are passionate problem solvers who are inspired to help our customers in this space, regardless of the size of their organization. We have experts at our research campus, in our labs, and around the United States ready to assist with any water quality situation. Our expertise is in solving taste and odor problems and in removing toxins from water at its natural source before it goes into municipal supplies. SePRO recently launched a new division within our organization called EutroPHIX. This team of experts will be focused on helping water resource and municipal managers detoxify their water from harmful algal blooms, phosphorus pollution, taste and odor issues, and dangerous toxins so that they can provide clean and safe water to the public.
Municipal Water Leader: Does SePRO provide any kind of training for municipal water workers?
Sam Barrick: All our technical specialists can provide continuing-education-unit training based on the needs of an organization, whether those needs relate to safety, technology, or chemistry. We can do that through virtual meetings, although we prefer face-to-face meetings.