The State of Colorado on Friday certified a water purification system manufactured by Innovative Water Technology, based in Rocky Ford.

The Water Quality Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment accepted Innovative Water Technology's 2016 request for a letter of acceptance for its 275-membrane module, the SunSpring Hybrid, for use in Colorado public drinking water systems.

The agency's acceptance of IWT's water purification technology is a big step for the small manufacturing company. It's a recognition that IWT's SunSpring Hybrid meets or exceeds state regulations regarding drinking water. The state's recognition is also a signal to potential clients of IWT, such as city municipalities, that the technology meets state standards -- a major requirement for any technology that is to be used in public drinking water systems.

Earlier versions of the company's technology were certified by the state, but those models were capable of filtering up to 5,000 gallons per day. The latest models are capable of filtering twice as much water, up to 10,000 gallons per day.

"There's always certain technologies that [the state] will allow that have proven third-party validations, certifications, you know, that are proven effective," said IWT Founder and President Jack Barker. "So you can't just throw a bunch of cartridge filters in and say you've got a water system, because they want to know that the water's absolutely safe to drink.

"We submitted a packet to the state of Colorado. It was probably at least 50 to 100 pages of independent testing and validation from GE and Suez, the company that manufacturers our membrane."

The state's acceptance of the SunSpring Hybrid essentially opens the door for IWT to work with any public drinking water system in the state. And, should IWT seek acceptance of its designs for use in other states, this recognition will help streamline those processes.

Information about IWT's designs are available for anybody who wants it. Barker thinks that getting his company's technology accepted in Colorado will help the company in other states because Colorado's wealth of bright engineers are an assurance of the state's public drinking water system standards.

"I've actually gone to the state and done classes for the engineers there on our technologies and membrane ultra filtration, ..." said Barker. "You know, there are some states that'll approve anything, but you come to Colorado because they care so much about the environment and public health. It's a good state to get the acceptance, so that's good for us."

Barker, who has 35 years of experience in public drinking water and wastewater management, wants IWT to focus on small water systems, which supply 94 percent of the country's drinking water. Many smaller water systems use wells to supply their water, said Barker. Because those wells are susceptible to surface water seeping into their supplies, the state requires that the water be filtered.

"All those small systems with those shallow wells or compromised well casings, things like that, will require and do require to be filtered first. And before you can have a filter, [the filter and system] has to be accepted by the state," said Barker.

In the future, Barker would like to implement IWT's water purifying technology in agricultural use and create a division in the company that focuses on contract water plant maintenance and control. He believes IWT can serve as a driving source for Rocky Ford's economy.