Introducing Kevin Kohler

Project Engineer at IER

Introducing Kevin Kohler

Kevin Kohler chose to serve his nation directly after leaving high school, joining the US Marine Corps, where he served as a mechanic, receiving extensive training in various areas of maintenance.  He received numerous awards and commendations and served on several overseas deployments.

Kevin joined IER in 2009, and has held various positions including Plant Manager, Regional Manager, and now Project Engineer.  With tremendous work ethic and inherent curiosity, Kevin has gained invaluable experience in product development and automated chemical feed and control systems. To further assist IER’s clients, Kevin has completed numerous wastewater treatment courses and earned several certificates while progressing towards an engineering degree.

He resides in Walla Walla, WA, with his wife and daughter. Outside of work, Kevin enjoys the great outdoors, especially hunting and fishing.

IER News Issue 3 – March 2021

A warm welcome to our third Newsletter.

A Letter from Doug Kelley, President of IER

“As amazing, challenging, sobering, and enlightening as 2020 was, we have now made the turn and are off and running in 2021!

Actually, these are very exciting times in IER, primarily because we have taken what we’ve learned from the hard work of research and development in 2020 and have  converted our manufacturing processes into the sale of new, world-class formulas for our AMALGAM Magnesium Hydroxide products!

By combining IER’s multiple years of chemistry, engineering, and operational experiences, along with strong guidance from our Calix partners in Australia, our team of dedicated professionals has reached new milestones in the development of formulations of magnesium hydroxide (AMALGAM-60, 60% Mg(OH)2) and blended alkaline additives (such as AMALGAM-55, blend of Mg and Ca hydroxides). These new formulations exhibit improved reactivity and settling stability with dramatically reduced viscosity, providing more reliable dosing under all wastewater application conditions.

In this newsletter, we are highlighting one of our key employees who played a central role in the development of these formulations.  Interestingly, he is not a Ph.D. chemist, nor a degreed engineer (though he is getting close to that achievement!).  Most importantly, he is a very curious person who is powerfully driven, each day looking to improve the efficiency of our processes and the effectiveness of our products.  His passion to learn and succeed has resulted in his rise within our organization to a position of oversight into nearly every project we perform.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy having the chance to meet him in this newsletter.

In our last newsletter I mentioned how we are rapidly expanding into the treatment of odor and corrosion in lift stations and collection systems.  While this is not a new application for magnesium hydroxide, IER’s team is bringing a unique focus on this application in order to address the overall performance of the collection system, as well as the wastewater treatment plant at the end of the pipe.  I am very excited to share in a future newsletter some very encouraging findings concerning the replacement of two hazardous chemicals with one nonhazardous AMALGAM product to completely mitigate collection system/lift station odor and corrosion, while simultaneously optimizing the alkalinity at the treatment plant for effective nutrient removal!

Finally, I want to wish all reading this newsletter the very best with the physical and mental health for yourself, your family members, and your co-workers.  This past year brought stresses into each of our lives that we’ve simply never had to face before.

Keep looking out for each other – the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter each day! “

Killing Two Birds with One Stone: Odor & Alkalinity Control

This talk discusses the concept of using the collection system as a means to extend the treatment of wastewater beyond that of the traditional treatment plant.

The discussion covers ideas to use simple chemical concepts to solve more than one problem with a single treatment.  Specifically, this presentation shares how the application of magnesium hydroxide into a force main can provide both odor and corrosion control in the collection system, while simultaneously providing sufficient influent alkalinity to maintain effective nitrification to meet a customer’s new permit limit.

Introducing Pete Leber

Pete graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science Technology. Pete started to work as a laboratory supervisor for a potato processing plant in the Tri-Cities of Washington.

From there, Pete moved back to Oregon to join a cherry processing plant, where he held several roles in both supervisory and management positions – Production Manager, Plant Manager and eventually Vice President of Operations, with responsibilities covering two processing plants. During that time, wastewater treatment became an important part of his overall operational responsibility.

Outside of work, Pete likes spending time outdoors especially hunting, fishing and camping.

Pete brings a depth of on-site wastewater experience, with a strong focus on both regulations and budget, to provide hands-on expertise and excellent service to IER customers.

IER News Issue 2 – December 2020

A warm welcome to our second Newsletter.

A Letter from Doug Kelley, President of IER

“It’s hard to believe it has been one year since IER joined forces with Calix, and what an amazing challenge it has been trying to grow together in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.  Through the miracle of webinars and emails we have shown incredible resiliency in our efforts to come to know each other and to really enjoy working with each other, confirming how our two companies – now one! – are mutually committed to advancing new technologies that cost-effectively sustain all life here on Earth!

IER has been focused on upgrading our core technologies related to magnesium hydroxide.  Our primary product, AMALGAM-60, has been reformulated to provide exceptional performance and stability. This has resulted in improved feed reliability and cost reductions related to customer handling and maintenance of slurry storage and feed systems.

In this newsletter, we are highlighting one of our key employees who transitioned from the food processing world over a decade ago to join IER and has been extremely successful in growing our business in Western Washington and Oregon.  His primary focus has been to replace the use of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) with magnesium hydroxide (AMALGAM-60), with the simple and clear message that it is safer for employees to handle, better for the environment, and costs less to use.  By working closely with the customer to optimize each storage and feed system, while providing exceptional customer service, he has been able to build a strong network of very happy customers.

With the coming new year, IER is poised to grow in our applications of magnesium hydroxide for odor and corrosion control in wastewater collection systems.  Armed with a very high-surface area product (ACTI-Mag), we are prepared to expand into this market with a highly cost-effective technology having over 20 years of proven applications success in Australia and SE Asia.

Finally, I want to wish all reading this newsletter a very safe, healthy, and peaceful end to 2020, and the same in 2021.

The virus pandemic has certainly changed the way we do business, and many of these changes will likely remain with us.  However, my hope is that we all renew our efforts to remain connected to those that are important to us – family and friends.  In many cases, some of our best friends are our customers.  Here’s to the strengthening of old relationships and the excitement of new beginnings in 2021!

Merry Christmas, All!


Introducing John Van Wingerden

John graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. John worked at the Port of Sunnyside Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant for 11 years in the lab, and then operations, before joining IER in September 2019. At the wastewater treatment plant, he started as a lab technician, but rapidly progressed in operations.

The treatment plant received a multitude of different industrial wastewater streams that varied seasonally. As a laboratory technician, John’s role was to observe the incoming levels of important parameters so that they could maintain optimized treatment in their sequencing batch reactor (SBR).

John was also actively involved in a range of activities from managing the lab to making day-to-day operational decisions for the treatment process.

This also gave John the chance to interact with the IER team as a customer. It was IER’s flexibility and ability to rapidly respond to the plant’s operational issues and technical challenges that convinced him to join the company. Today, he enjoys giving proactive service to his own customers and leads business development of AMALGAM products for the wastewater industry.

Outside of work, John likes to spend time with his family, playing board games with friends and working in his garden.

IER News Issue 1 – September 2020

A warm welcome to our very first Newsletter.

A Letter from Doug Kelley, President of IER

“IER is thrilled to become a new member of the Calix Team of global wastewater experts!  As part of this team, we are excited to launch our new website and the first issue of a quarterly Newsletter, both of which are designed to help municipalities and industries solve their wastewater challenges by optimizing financial, safety, and environmental factors.

We have signed you up for our Newsletter hoping you’ll find in its contents an occasional nugget of value that specifically addresses a need or goal to help your organization succeed.  If you find that what we offer is not for you, simply click ‘unsubscribe’ at the bottom of any email.

For any questions, suggestions, feedback or comments, please contact us.

Thank you! “

Chemistry 101 – Better pH and alkalinity control

A very informative, yet brief session from Dr Doug Kelley, one of the field leaders in pH and alkalinity control. Doug outlines the basic chemistry that lies under the pH measurement and how alkalinity and other chemicals can affect your process.

In an interview with Michael Wheatland, Doug will go into detail about the differences between using caustic, lime and soda ash for pH control and the cost benefits of using Magnesium Hydroxide products.

Fighting COVID-19 on the front lines of wastewater management

Wastewater management professionals are playing a silent-yet-crucial role in the fight against COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

One of the most important preventative actions people can take against COVID-19 is to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. While consumers expect clean water to come out of their taps on demand, they often aren’t aware of what goes on behind the scenes to keep that water clean.

Wastewater treatment plays a pivotal role in public health. Regular wastewater treatment methods are sufficient to protect against infection through water. Wastewater is, therefore, a critical activity and the work being done by wastewater treatment plant operators is essential in this race against COVID-19.

These workers are the silent heroes behind the scenes of this pandemic, showing up to work every day and ensuring that clean water is available to help maintain strong hygiene practices to avoid infection.

Wastewater treatment is also a vital service because of the role it plays not just in keeping cities and towns sanitary but also in solving some of the humanitarian challenges being faced globally. More than half the global population lacks access to clean water, and three quarters of households in developing countries don’t have access to somewhere to wash with soap and water. This could become significant as COVID-19 continues to spread; handwashing with soap and water is one of the key ways to avoid infection.

Water infrastructure is underfunded according to the UN, despite the essential role it plays in maintaining sanitation and healthy living conditions. Treating wastewater is expensive but it can deliver a strong return on investment, particularly when wastewater is used to generate biogas for clean energy.

Given the exceptional importance of ongoing and reliable wastewater treatment, IER would like to thank all those in the wastewater industry who continue to work during these challenging times to help ensure public safety. 

Improving water quality sustainably

We often take access to clean water for granted but the same isn’t necessarily true all over the world. As industrial emissions continue to increase, global warming contributes to worsening drought conditions, and urbanization proceeds at a rapid pace, maintaining the quality of available water is quickly becoming a significant global challenge.

The United Nations has included clean water and sanitation among its SDGs, indicating its importance on a global scale. According to the UN, millions of people including children die every year from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. More than two billion people are living with the risk of reduced access to freshwater resources and, by 2050, at least one in four people will live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

Without effective and sustainable management of water and wastewater, agriculture, mining, and manufacturing industries could suffer.

In helping improve the sustainability of wastewater treatment, IER can help these industries minimize their environmental impact, protect valuable water sources, and reduce operating costs.



The impact of poor wastewater management is often highly publicized. For example, dying fish in the Darling River showed what happens when high-nutrient run-off from farms creates an environment where blue-green algal blooms form, depleting oxygen and releasing toxins into the water.

Using a solution such as Magnesium Hydroxide can help remediate water and wastewater, reducing or eliminating smells, reducing blue-green algae, reducing the amount of sludge in the water, and changing the composition of the sludge from anoxic to aerobic.

Prevention includes treating wastewater from industries and farms. This allows the treated water to be recycled which can help cut down fresh water use, with the waste load from the wastewater also convertible into biogas that can be used to produce electricity or heat. Using an anaerobic digestion process, the organic matter in wastewater can be converted into biogas, which is then combusted to produce energy. Businesses can use this energy to offset their own energy costs and feed any excess back into the grid. This saves money and potentially unlocks a new revenue stream.

Managing wastewater is also an increasingly critical challenge for water authorities. As sewer system ages and expands, the number of odor complaints and potential health and safety hazards also keep ramping up. As this infrastructure copes with increasing amounts of wastewater, water authorities are looking for safe, cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to minimize its impact. Like industrial businesses and farms, water authorities can address this challenge while also turning wastewater into energy.

Using Magnesium Hydroxide, water authorities can eliminate odor issues from wastewater, more effectively break down low-density, large-chain fatty acids (which can then be digested by the bacteria in the wastewater), and improve the quality and quantity of biogas created by anaerobic systems.

With cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and non-toxic solutions available today for industry, farms, and water authorities, it is possible to dramatically improve the way we look at wastewater treatment, because there is only one Earth… Mars is for quitters.