Know your H20: Water Filtration Q&A with Melissa Neckopulos

Did you know Antunes has been in the water filtration industry for 18 years? Melissa Neckopulos, water filtration general manager, leads our water filtration team — whose members have more than 60 years of combined water-related experience. Here, she shares her background and insights into the water filtration industry.

Describe your role at Antunes and your background that supports it.

As the general manager of water, I provide leadership for the water filtration team, which includes the product management, design engineering and laboratory testing. I provide a focus and a path to continue to grow the Antunes water business.

I have 14 years of water treatment experience and am a WQA Master Water Specialist (MWS), which is an experienced professional who addresses advanced water treatment applications and serves as a mentor to individuals going through the WQA certification process.

The three companies I worked for gave me exposure to residential, commercial and industrial filtration products, as well as a wide range of experiences in product management, application engineering and technical sales. I’ve also traveled globally meeting with companies whose products would be tested towards NSF/ANSI standards.

How did you get started in this field?

My undergraduate research experience in organic chemistry kickstarted my career as a lab tech for the Water Quality Association (WQA). There, I tested water softeners and other water treatment equipment against industry-accepted standards to verify equipment performance. For instance, the Antunes ultrafilter is certified for cyst reduction, as well as chlorine, taste and odor reduction, and that is a certification toward an industry standard that was written by NSF/ANSI.

What interested me the most about water is that it is vital for all forms of life. It’s integral to so many aspects of day-to-day operation for businesses as well: as water for drinking, cleaning, and cooking, and as the most critical ingredient in food preparation. People in this industry are very passionate, and there is stability because we will always need clean water.

What is important for operators to know about water quality and filtration?

Some people want to know why they should treat their water and only reach out if there is an issue with the look, taste or odor, but there may be other issues in the water that they cannot identify physically.

The bigger question we ask is “what do you use your water for?” From there, we can begin discovery of what is needed to get their desired result. If it’s a potable water application, you want to make sure there are no contaminants in the water that are over the maximum contaminant level (MCL) which has been set forth by the EPA — these are health- and aesthetic-related claims. If they are not drinking the water, but using it for their appliances, we may not focus on the MCL, but instead on the scaling minerals.

Operators also need to understand that there’s not just one piece of equipment that will solve all their water quality issues. There could be one solution, but it might include different technologies. Every application is different, but we can provide a complete solution and guidance based on the end use of their water, whether it is scale, particulate matter, or chemical taste and odors.

How can operators better understand their water quality issues?

Firstly, there are areas of the world that have higher hardness or iron levels, including the Midwestern United States. It’s important to know what the source of the water is because that determines the water quality.

Secondly, one thing that operators need to consider is that the water chemistry is different source-to-source, and is constantly changing. Even if water is being treated by the municipality and meets the standards, by the time it gets to your foodservice operations and runs through the pipes, it’s changed.

Finally, U.S. operators can get a report from their municipality about the water quality, but if they want to discuss treatment options for their facility, we can take a free sample of water and test it in our lab in order to make recommendations.

What makes Antunes unique compared to other water filtration system manufacturers?

Antunes’ water filtration systems can improve both the efficiency of operators’ equipment and the quality of the water people are drinking. Unlike competitors’ systems where cartridges need to be replaced at least quarterly, the Antunes VZN filtration system can save time, waste going to landfills, and maintenance costs due self-cleaning capabilities.

Furthermore, what sets us apart is that we can customize water filtration solutions beyond our premier ultrafiltration technology. We can add a scale reduction system for an ice machine to make sure the hardness minerals aren’t breaking down the equipment. We also have a hardness reduction system for coffee applications. This system is a better solution than a regenerable system like a water softener, because you don’t want to add sodium to the water when you’re making coffee. We have tailored options depending on what the water’s used for — including pairing filtration with some of our cooking solutions, like steamers.

Additionally, in my time here, I have been really impressed by the company culture, and our commitment to making a positive impact on the world. We have a strong tie to Splash and want to continue supporting their efforts to end the global water crisis.

Have more questions about water? Check out this article — Ask the Experts: 3 Quick Questions about Water Filtration. And to learn more about Melissa, read her new hire announcement.