Windmills to Improve Water

A Regina-based company has quietly become the world leader in using windmills to aerate stagnant or poor – quality water.

Koenders Windmills Ltd. was founded almost 20 years ago, based on the vision of a man named Wilf Koenders, who pioneered the use of wind power in rural Saskatchewan as a power source to force air into bodies of stagnant or poor-quality water, such as ponds, sloughs or fish ponds.

More conventional aeration systems use electrical or other types of power to operate the system that injects the air into water.

Leader-Post / Cal Murrison, president of Koenders Windmills, already sells windmills to U.S. customers and is hoping to expand that market worldwide. The windmills are good for aerating stagnant or poor-quality water.

Cal Murrison, the president of Koenders Windmills, said he first became familiar with the Koenders concept because his own father, a farmer, was one of the first customers when Koenders Windmills started coming out.

Murrison himself moved off the farm and into Regina where he was involved in the construction business for many years.

A few years ago when the opportunity to buy into the Koenders business, in conjunction with business partners, came up, Murrison decided he wasn’t initially very interested.

“(But) I ended up being intrigued by the process and what it did, so I ended up taking it on,” Murrison said.

Murrison said he sometimes reflects on the importance of good-quality water when he looks at cars filling up at the gas pumps just across the street from the Koenders offices, near the corner of Saskatchewan Drive and Elphinstone Street.

Today, many people are concerned about having enough gas, oil and other energy to power the world’s economy, he noted. But people need to reflect on the importance of water, particularly good-quality water, for the health and even the survival of the human race because, Murrison said, “water is the most important thing in the world.”
The Koenders business has grown over the years, Murrison said. While only 14 windmill aeration devices were sold in the first year, Murrison said the company has sold as many as 6,000 in peak years.

But he declined to get into details about how exactly sales have been going recently, although he said the company is continuing to sell plenty of windmills. He concedes that various developments, including the rising value of the Canadian dollar has put pressure on the company’s ability to sell products in the U.S. and make money.

“That doesn’t help us,” he said.

The typical windmill-aeration system costs anywhere from $1,100 to $2,000, Murrison said. Using an example, Murrison said the company may at one time have sold a windmill in the States for $800 US, which worked out $1,100 or $1,200 in Canadian funds.

But a $800 sale in the U.S. these days doesn’t amount to much more than $800 in Canadian money, Murrison said.

“We miss that $400 difference,” Murrison said.

The company has adjusted its pricing structure and business plan to take into account the higher Canadian dollar, Murrison said.

Koenders employs 15 people. While the head office is in Regina, the windmills are built at a plant at Englefeld, east of Saskatoon.

Looking to the future, Murrison said the company is working on further developing a business relationship with John Deere that could greatly enhance marketing Koenders Windmills worldwide.