Artificial Intelligence fueling Wasco's high-tech water treatment plant

    Arian Edalat, president and general manager of MembranePRO Services LLC, holds up a vile of polluted oil wastewater alongside a vile of clean water at the Wasco Water Treatment Plant. May 31, 2018. (KBAK/KBFX)

    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - For the first time in California, water treatment is leveraging artificial intelligence, a game changing alternative that may spread to oil fields across the country, and it's starting in Kern County.

    The hundreds of gallons of oil Kern County produces every year is just a drop in the bucket compared to how much water that comes with it.

    One barrel of oil can produce up to 100 gallons of waste water, costing the oil and gas industry hundreds of millions of dollars to dispose of.

    Arian Edalat, president and general manager of Los Angeles based company, MembranePRO Services LLC. His company's technology is responsible for turning brown, oil-polluted wastewater, into clean, reusable water.

    Wasco's brand new water treatment plant is the first in California to tap into Edalat's technology.

    "The secret sauce to this process is in this," Edalat said Thursday, pointing to a colorful digital touchscreen at the water treatment plant. It's the human machine interface, a device using AI algorithms and breakthrough membrane technology to take gallons of water, analyse how polluted it is, and determine the most effective treatment method.

    "It's like a doctor diagnosing the problem and taking medication into effect," Edalat said.

    Holding a gallon of clean water that underwent five phases of comprehensive treatment, Edalat claims it's clean enough to drink. "From a taste standpoint, from a quality standpoint, from an aesthetic standpoint, the water meets the quality you get out of the tap."

    The treatment plant will soon be recycling up to 420,000 gallons per day, fueled by growing demand by oil producers who see this as a cost-saving solution.

    "It's a cost-saving alternative to practices that may or may not be there a year from now, two years from now, five years from now," Edalat said, claiming that the cost of wastewater disposal is expensive and unsustainable.

    For now the clean water coming from the plant is reused at industrial companies nearby, but soon could be watering farms and fields up and down California's agriculture industry, and possibly transform water treatment across the country.

    "This is the first of its kind here, and we've chosen Kern County because it's the heart of oil operations," Edalat said.

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