Aaron Tartakovsky is co-founder and CEO of Epic CleanTec, a pioneering green technology start-up that is redefining urban wastewater. Aaron previously served as Director of Business Development and Marketing for CB Engineers, a San Francisco-based engineering design firm, where he also ran its R&D division. Prior to that he worked in federal politics and has remained active in affecting public policy on the local, state, and national levels. Aaron speaks frequently on water and cleantech at universities and at industry gatherings throughout the U.S., and recently co-authored the William J. Worthen Foundation’s “Water Reuse Practice Guide.” To respond to California’s water crisis, Aaron was a founder of the Israel-California GreenTech Partnership, a binational initiative launched at Google’s Tel Aviv headquarters in order to develop solutions to the drought and spearhead innovation in the global water industry—the initiative was highlighted at the 2016 White House Water Summit. Aaron was recognized as a GreenBiz 30 under 30 in 2017, and was recently selected for the 2019 Class of Young Water Pros by Water and Wastes Digest Magazine.
Centralized and decentralized solutions can work together to make cities more resilient. Decentralized systems do not take away from the important work cities do.
Interdisciplinary skills are critical for innovation because you don’t know what happens where two disparate ideas come together.
People in the water industry are on par with first responders. They are that important to society.
9:50 What has been going on at Epic CleanTec?
Decentralized reuse strategies.
Just completed our first commercial install in San Francisco.
Developing a model where centralized and decentralized solutions work in concert.
12:35 What advice do you have for communicating about the “black water” side of the water industry?
Most people never think about what happens when the flush – meet them where they are at.
The same water we have now is the same water the dinosaurs used.
Need to bring the concepts down to their simplest form – remember your audience.
17:01 How are you making decentralized systems appealing for cities too?
We have to explore new models.
These systems can work well together. We want to work together with cities.
We can “manufacturer” water within our buildings now instead of taking it from our national parks.
20:33 Why is being interdisciplinary skills so important when being innovative?
You never know what happens when two different ideas are brought together.
Our industry is guilty of silos.
Interdisciplinary approach is good for workforce development.
25:47 What surprised you about the research you prior to entering the water industry?
Biggest challenges came from equipment manufacturers and their reps.
27:37 What brought you to the industry? What is the story you would tell to bring in new people?
I didn’t study to be in the water industry but had a passion for the environment.
When you are outside the USA, you can see the issues with water more clearly.
Biggest draw is that water touches everything – you need to at least have an understanding of it. Oh and the conferences, they are amazing and there’s a lot of them.
37:28 What’s one hard truth and one thing that makes you the most hopeful regarding World Toilet Day?
Lack of access to sanitation and clean water is a huge global crisis for billions of people.
There are a huge number of people and financial resources being committed to tackle these challenges.
Don’t flush those wipes – Poop, Pee and Paper only.
41:45 The story of cold calling kennels for poop. It’s harder to get dog poop than you might think.
44:30 The Lightning Round.
Letters from Rivka – Karen Hesse.
Practice gratitude everyday.
No such thing as a silver bullet but there is silver buckshot. Each person can do their piece.