Lakeshore, Small Business & Startups, and Sustainability

Earthbound provides eco-friendly water management

Company mitigates storm water runoff and standing water through natural means.

February 27, 2015
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Earthbound water management
Ryan VanderWater and Blair Smallbone already have clients lined up for the EGRP system that mitigates standing groundwater in an environmentally friendly way. Courtesy Samantha Morse

A Muskegon-based startup is tapping into an eco-friendly device developed by a Detroit company to revolutionize the solution to water management problems.

Earthbound Innovations LLC, a certified Parjana installer located in Muskegon, launched in August 2014, and is delivering an innovative water management solution to residential and commercial clients through a patented device known as the Energy-Passive Groundwater Recharge Product.

The EGRP system was developed by Detroit-based Parjana Inc. and Parjana Distribution and is designed to mitigate standing water on the ground surface to less concentrated areas in the soil underground. The system is installed 2 feet below the surface and capped to create a vacuum. The device moves water vertically through a 1¼-inch diameter tube and allows horizontal distribution through five open chambers.

Ryan VanderWater, co-founder and CEO of Earthbound Innovations, said EGRP is a natural water-harvesting device and uses negative pressure to pull water from the surface and control groundwater movement.

“It gives you the ability to remove surface-standing water and infiltrate the water into your groundwater naturally. It uses a system similar to the heart and the veins to pump the blood,” said VanderWater.

“Instead of using pumps and electricity to manage water, we now have the ability to manage it naturally. Once the system is in the ground, there is no maintenance, there is no ongoing cost; it is working with the natural movements of the earth.”

Depending on the severity of the water problem and the soil composition, VanderWater said after installation of the device with the use of a drilling machine, it takes at least 12 weeks for the acclimation period before it begins moving water. After that, the system is functional day and night without any required maintenance, and each device can move up to 150 gallons of water an hour.

The EGRP system also incorporates a communication feature to allow synchronization among multiple devices and has a warranty minimum of up to 25 years, according to VanderWater. Although overall cost for clients is site specific, Earthbound Innovations charges approximately $9.20 per linear foot for the installation process.

“It really depends on the severity of the water problems and what the expectations of the customer are,” said VanderWater. “We can develop a system where it can infiltrate water within a matter of hours. We can pinpoint it down to an hour infiltration rate.”

VanderWater and co-founder Blair Smallbone participated in a training program at Lawrence Technological University near Detroit to learn about the technology, soil and the drilling process. After completing a drilling session at Belle Isle, a Michigan state park in Detroit, VanderWater said they became fully certified Parjana installers.

The certified Parjana installer network comprises five additional companies: Water Group LLC, based in California; GroundWorks Water Solutions LLC, Florida; Aqua Channel LLC, a Michigan-based company focused on residential and commercial industries; Heritage Hydrologics LLC, based in Michigan and serving all market segments; and Groundwater Dynamics LTD, based in the United Kingdom and serving agricultural, sports, development and municipal clients.

Earthbound Innovations is renting office and warehouse space from Beverage Parts Source at 2814 McCracken St. in Muskegon. To launch the startup, VanderWater said he and Smallbone made a personal investment to finance the business.

“Once we established the company, it took about six weeks to (get) our drill because it had to be made. … It took about another month to find office space,” said VanderWater. “In the time being, we did a little bit of drilling on Belle Isle in the training session, and then we have one full installation at a car wash and lube shop in Whitehall.”

VanderWater said the team has been building a line of jobs to work on once spring arrives. Currently, Earthbound Innovations is discussing a potential install for the Electric Forest Festival, an annual weekend music event held in Rothbury.

As a former Michigan sales representative for a Canada-based company, VanderWater decided to pursue an opportunity in the water industry after his uncle, Andy Zorn, president of Clifford Buck Construction in Muskegon, connected him with the Parjana team.

“He had a problem with water on a site continuously getting into the basement of a dentist office. He said, ‘We did not know how to handle this problem until we met with the Parjana team,’” said VanderWater. “It was ironic how it was a solution for him and he saw an opportunity in it and called me.”

With the ability to manage storm water onsite to create net neutral cities or college campuses, VanderWater said the benefits of the EGRP system are endless and are what drove him to start Earthbound Innovations. Some additional benefits of the system are that it reduces runoff water, waterproofs foundations, reduces hydrostatic pressure and rebalances water flow.

“Recharging our ground water for the future is something that has gone unrecognized for a long time, and that is what we have the ability to do. It has been too long that there hasn’t been enough regulation on what we do with storm water and how we manage it,” said VanderWater.

“It is time everybody starts looking further into not only what we do but also into water, in general — protecting our Great Lakes and protecting our Michigan watersheds.”

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