As the problem of tainted drinking water becomes more acute, TECTAPDS, a high-tech Kingston company has found customers around the globe for its compact, automated water testing devices.
Models of its compact lab-in-a-box can test multiple water samples at the same time. TECTA-PDS touts them as the world’s first and only “all-inone, self-contained, rapid-automated microbial test for E-coli, coliforms and enterococcus bacteria.” (All other systems use manual, lab-based methods that require 2-3 days for testing.)
Cartridges containing water samples are simply placed in the device where they undergo analysis at the flip of a switch. Users require minimal training and results are available in as little as two hours.
Assembled by Kingston’s Bojack Manufacturing, they sell in the range of $12,000-$21,000 US.
Work on the technology began at Queen’s University when Dr. Stephen Brown, a chemistry and environmental sciences professor, combined advanced chemistry with state-of-the-art optical systems and portable incubators to test water. TECTA-PDS was founded shortly afterwards in 2003, sold to French water company VEOLIA Environment in 2009, and after a major expansion, reacquired in a 2016 buy-out led by current CEO Doug Wilton.
Originally inspired by a tragic 2000 drinking-water accident that sickened hundreds of residents in Walkerton, Ontario, the company’s devices have now found their way into almost 100 indigenous communities across Canada, as well as water systems in 50 countries.
A variety of agencies use the devices to test both drinking and waste water; they have been particularly useful in isolated locales and at the scene of natural disasters where easy access to laboratories is often impossible. A TECTA system was used at the Tokyo Olympics to test all open-water sports venues.
Working from its office/lab in downtown Kingston, the 12-person TECTA-PDS team is expanding its product line and extending its testing solution beyond water into the medical, food and personal care industries.