Hope has a name Enceladus or How a Holešov native has won over the Ambassador of Chile
If someone asked you which planet besides Earth you consider to be the most beautiful in the solar system, what would you answer? The first planet that came to our mind was Saturn, for its exquisite rings and beautiful moons. Enceladus in particular may have more in common with Earth than we can imagine. Scientific observations have shown that it has the most favourable living conditions from all space objects known so far – it has water. It is mostly covered with pure ice, and scientists believe there is something like a hidden ocean under its surface.
You are probably wondering what all this has to do with Chile and the town of Holešov. The answer is simple: the prestigious Strait of Magellan Award for innovation and exploration with global impact.
Glory that Holešov Castle has not seen in centuries
The ancient town of Holešov has about twelve thousand inhabitants. However, none of them may have experienced in their lifetime so many different personalities, ambassadors and state officials as they gathered at the local castle last autumn. The pompous event had been planned there for two months and everyone still fondly remembers it. What exactly was going on there?
Jaromír Tomšů, a native of Holešov and the owner of SATTURN, received the Strait of Magellan Award from the Ambassador of Chile for the Enceladus project, an innovative monitoring system for domestic wastewater treatment plants, intended primarily for smaller municipalities.
The Chilean Ministry of Infrastructure analysed this project on the recommendation of the Chilean Embassy in Prague and stated that it could be of great benefit to their country. Some parts of Chile suffer from drought so much that drinking water has to be imported into smaller municipalities by tankers, and there is no wastewater treatment system in place to re-use the water. Enceladus therefore has enormous potential to change that, and improve quality of life of thousands of Chileans, as was stated at the ceremony, among other things.
How does Jaromír Tomšů look back at the ceremony? "It was one of those days that change your life. I saw it as a huge satisfaction and confirmation that we had set out on the right track fourteen years ago. I recalled all the moments when it was really hard to put our solutions into practice, and a lot of people even laughed at us. There were times when our company was in a bad shape financially due to investment in this project. I have a lot of respect for all those who have supported us all along – my co-workers and particularly my family. Without them, I would have given up long ago."
Smart water management
Wastewater in the countryside does not have to be an issue
Although at first glance it might seem that our country has no problem with municipal water treatment, it is not quite the case. There are still a lot of small villages in our country where sewerage is a nightmare and wastewater is not re-used at all. However, the ongoing climate change, which is also reflected in the shortage of sources of surface water and groundwater, is literally calling for an environmentally and economically favourable and sustainable solution.
Enceladus comes into play wherever it is inefficient to build central sewerage systems. This technology enables the implementation and long-term operation of municipal systems of domestic wastewater treatment plants. They are connected via online monitoring and may be controlled remotely by a trained professional. The system can be expanded with other modules, such as remote water meter reading, so the customer can check their water consumption at any time. This module follows the telemetry of the water supply system, ie monitoring and controlled pumping of water from boreholes, reservoirs and drinking water treatment plants.
"You can install our system at individual houses very quickly, without having to break local roads. And you will save up to two thirds of the money you would have to put into building a central treatment plant. In addition, there are places where, given the distance between houses, the construction of a central treatment plant would be impossible. The long-term operating costs as well as service life are comparable for both solutions," Jaromír Tomšů explains.
"The benefit for the environment is water retention in the landscape. The treated wastewater is accumulated together with rainwater in underground tanks so that households can then use it as utility water for flushing toilets or irrigating lawns and gardens. This can save up to 40 percent of current drinking water consumption."
Almost 1,000 pieces of Enceladus are already in operation in our country, and at least 350 more will be added this year. There are 130 treatment plants in the village of Liptaň in the Moravian-Silesian Region, 28 in Stropešín in the Vysočina region or 59 in Tetov in the Pardubice region.
Diversification is key
The owner himself says that the company survived only thanks to a rich product portfolio: "One division held the other when the other’s business was down. Focusing on one big customer or supplier always proved to be a no-go in the past."
In the first few years, the company focused almost exclusively on building cable TV in the Zlín Region. Although this has remained a stable product to this day, it is far from being the main one. Later, they began to focus on warning and notification systems for the population. In 2006, they set up their own R&D department, started cooperating with universities and working on R&D projects. "This has driven us further to become a technology company with long-term innovation potential. We want to be attractive for young, creative people. We don’t really want to be just another assembly and service company - there are plenty of them in the market already," says Jaromír Tomšů.
In addition to hardware solutions, they also offer their own software. For example, SOS Nemo, smart crisis management and security management system, has been used by all hospitals in the Pardubice Region for six years. Another example is the Population Warning System in the city of Pardubice or a tram transport control system software for Prague Public Transit Company.
It seems that dreams come true in this Holešov family. What else could its owner wish for? "You know, although we implement our projects throughout the country and we also export them abroad, we have not yet quite taken off in our home region of Zlín. I’m hoping this will change," says Jaromír Tomšů. "And one more important wish – I would like my son Jaromír to continue my mission to keep the water clean in the countryside."
Written by Jana Jenšíková
Photo credits: SATTURN HOLEŠOV