By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Marian Singer is a strategist who co-founded Wellntel, a company designed to monitor and manage one of the Earth’s most important resources: groundwater.
Until recently, managing groundwater resources was not a priority. It is an expensive and labor-intensive process, and because the water tables were largely static, monitoring this resource was not a regular practice.
In our increasingly water-stressed world, that is no longer the case. “Thirty or forty years ago, groundwater was stable. We are way past that now. Groundwater that was once a very stable resource is now being actively pumped and it is actively moving. The idea of just looking at a single well doesn’t make sense anymore – we have to look at an area or a basin’s water resource,” Singer said.
Singer, and her co-founder Nick Hayes, worked on a year-long project with an industrial pump manufacturer where they traveled the globe to study the use of water pumps. At the close of the project, Singer and Hayes wondered how they could bring “value and digital information in an advanced platform” to the water industry.
“We learned that groundwater is an incredibly important resource and that it is under-monitored and under-managed because it’s underground and expensive and difficult to measure,” Singer said. “However, it is increasingly being turned to as weather patterns change, and populations grow, and agriculture and industry use more (water). But still nobody knew what was going on down there.”
“We had this idea. The first step is, could we make the measurement and monitoring of it (groundwater) easier, cheaper, and faster and get better data? We ended up raising some money, creating our proprietary sensor technology, and also a cloud platform (to handle the collected data),” she said.
Launched in 2013, the company planned a three-pronged development approach to move the water technology industry forward. Singer explained they needed the cloud for data aggregation and analytics, telemetry to move the data from the well to the cloud, and most importantly monitoring presence that was not only easier and faster than what was currently available, but also provided a way to permanently monitor a well.
Today, the company has two patents in water quantity and quality monitoring.
The sensor created to monitor wells is unique. It is not placed inside the well, in fact, it never touches water. The small, brick-shaped tool uses sound to measure well activity. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the sensor uploads the collected data to the cloud using radio to a local internet connection. In remote areas where local broadband is not available, the sensor connects to a cellular modem to transmit the data.
The greatest value Wellntel provides is not the monitoring of an individual well, but through the combined water data the company provides. Wellntel is actively serving customers in forty states. It can bring well data together with detailed weather reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), information from the U.S. Geological Survey reports, and other proprietary data to get the most complete look at groundwater that has ever been available to its customers.
And that data has never been more important than it is today.
Demand is growing for water monitoring technologies. Wellntel clients include industries that rely on water to conduct business, like the mining, agriculture and food and beverage industries, as well as government agencies that use the data to make informed decisions about local growth.
The venture backed company has participated in a number of accelerators over the years. It completed The BREW accelerator program, as well as the California-based Imagine H2O accelerator in 2014. In 2019, the company completed the THRIVE accelerator program, which focused on the Ag-Tech market. The growing company has successfully completed a Series A funding round and is always looking for water data specialists to join their team.
Singer foresees a future where water usage will be monitored in a way similar to how carbon emissions are handled. When that day comes, Wellntel will be ready to provide the data the world needs to actively advance stewardship.
To connect with Wellntel, find them here.