Willy Fortunato was impatiently awaiting the announcements of the water plan, presented by Emmanuel Macron on Thursday March 30. This plan notably provides for sobriety measures and a twelve-fold increase in the proportion of reused wastewater.
The general manager of UV Germi, an SME from Corrèze, whose specialty is precisely this, remains a little skeptical all the same: “In a country where you need an authorization from the administration granted by way of derogation to use rainwater in the toilets, there is still a lot of work to do to save the resource”, he explains. But he still hopes that these announcements will open up new prospects for his business.
The company, located near Brive-la-Gaillarde, notably manufactures “Réut boxes”, using a patented ultraviolet (UV) reactor process that makes it possible to reuse wastewater. It has already sold more than 300 in France and around the world, to communities such as Île de Ré to meet agricultural needs, or Antibes to clean roads. More and more manufacturers are interested in it, like Bledina or Disneyland Paris. “The park has been equipped for ten years and has been able to save 10 million cubic meters”assures Willy Fortunato, who has also opened a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia and one in Dubai.
Last year, UV Germi sold to Veolia about thirty “Réut box”, a system connected to a treatment plant, which fits in a container. It reproduces ultraviolet rays to destroy bacteria, viruses and parasites without the need for chemicals. The boss of UV Germi hopes to sell some today ” several thousands “.
Consuming less water in swimming pools
The company has also developed another process, still using ultraviolet rays, to reduce the quantity of chloramine in swimming pools, this harmful gas, with the well-known smell, released by chlorine. “This greatly reduces water consumption, because operators generally add between 30 and 100 liters per bather per day to dilute the molecule”, explains Willy Fortunato, who won the equipment contract for the swimming venues of the Paris Olympic Games. UV Germi already works with 2,500 public swimming pools and is now targeting the private market.
Listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, the company achieved a turnover of around 7 million euros last year and intends to double it this year. “The potential is there and the return on investment can be made quickly for users. But the regulations continue to be absurd, despite the political discourse on the need for sobriety”Willy Fortunato insists.
In some departments, he says, “it takes four months to reach someone at the Regional Health Agency (ARS)at the rate of three emails per week, to negotiate a wastewater reuse project”. While officials dither, the water keeps flowing. The boss of UV Germi remains optimistic despite everything. “At least a third of the savings can be achieved through education measures, if we refer to what happened in Spain”he assures.
Already established in a promising niche, the company ticks many boxes, in particular that of a French production, with a label « French Fab ». In its workshops in Saint-Viance, the assembly of machines is done with materials produced mainly in the department. “We are 70% made in Corrèze”, says Willy Fortunato. He hopes to soon repatriate to Europe the electronic parts he still orders in Asia.