By Steven Delgado, WC&P Senior Editor

E-commerce for the water treatment industry is alive and well on the Internet. This is good news for those businesses ordering hard-to-get water systems parts, living in rural or remote settings or manufacturing systems internationally.

Information on everything from water stocks to water sports is accessible via better designed, and by now better-researched World Wide Web sites. And even the best of libraries or distributors cannot remain open 24 hours a day as can the Internet.

http://www.chemicaldesk.com
http://ChemicalDesk.com is one of two websites named after “desks” reviewed this month. It’s a multi-tiered information platform that debuted in September 1999 as the only Internet exchange for water treatment chemicals, technical services and equipment. It launched a similar format for the pulp and paper chemicals industry last February.

Its goal is to be the leading electronic marketplace that unites buyers and sellers of water treatment and pulp/paper chemicals, technical services, and equipment, although at the time of this review it only featured chemicals. It offers a real time platform to explore the world of chemicals and services by providing effective product and vendor comparison metrics, and delivering technical service and components. This plan looks great on paper, but will it work? Only contact time will tell.

“News & Events” is an informative section that bundles current news and calendar event items together in one section. Because water treatment and chemical use are pretty much synonymous, the news offered here covers a variety of topics—from well drilling to “Erin Brockovich”—the popular Julia Roberts movie out this spring on water contamination in a small California community.

http://www.waterinvestments.com
With a virtual fountain of information neatly assimilated on one home page, http://WaterInvestments.com is comprehensive and refreshingly open with background on its origin, what it is and what it’s aiming to achieve, complete with a listing of the people responsible for its content—a rarity indeed among corporate websites. Like I said, much can be found on the home page itself, up to and including a viewer’s poll, issue discussion board, top news of the day, top moving water stocks and even reviews of national water-based trade shows, including the Water Quality Association’s meeting in Long Beach this past March.

Site sponsor Group Triton doesn’t hold back when it comes to analysis of publicly traded water companies. Reviews and opinions are everywhere, and the “Investment Fund” section is designed for easy use and doesn’t stress you out, as you might have been over the tech stock performances of the past few months anyway. You can check out customizable graphs of stock activity and comments on the company via message boards. Each company has an exclusive message board, where you can actually perform a little research before you buy, directly opposite of the lack of research you did when you decided to log on and buy those 100 shares of http://SonyBetamax.com before they went south.

The news departments at this site are segmented and easy to use, and the information covering utilities is separated from the corporate news. Some news items appear more than once, but are clear and easy to identify. As said, the “Stock Reporter” provides adjustable charts, news and message boards for the companies it features, but some of the other departments are still in need of development.

One example is the “Executive Perspectives,” a Q&A section with corporate types in the water industry that, at the time of this review, had only two columns posted—one was dated January, the other April, to be specific, with American Water Works Co.’s James Barr and Vivendi Water’s Dick Heckmann as initial interviewees. Considering the diversity of today’s water business and number of executives that would love to be included, this section should be relatively easy to keep fresher than this. The “Water Asset Exchange” was another section also in need of development at this website.

http://www.h2oproducts.com
“Parts is parts,” is what we used to say in Navy Air when we would have to justify the “appropriation” of aircraft parts by any means available, any day or night, in order to keep our squadron’s mechanical defenders of freedom in the air. H2OProducts.com should use this same slogan, as it also spares the fancy frills to bring you 24-hour online availability of water system parts, from pumps and motors to valves, tanks and softeners.

Go ahead and spend a few minutes to register at this site, because you’re not going to be able to do much here without doing so. Once in the system, you’re able to buy online, compare brands, pricing and delivery, consolidate your orders, look up previous orders, and track current ones. Although I cannot comment on the pricing level of parts available here as compared to the brick-and-mortar marketplace, the convenience, process and guarantees of ordering parts on this website make it a worthwhile vendor. If the Navy had the same system for tracking parts back then as this website does today, I’d be in the brig right now.

http://www.waterdesk.com
It has built the fanfare, sent out the high-end announcements and made the promises, but Waterdesk.com is still dead in the water as of May. After taking the virtual tour of the site, it can be said that it’s already lacking in contact names, company name and source information right out of the gate. We can only hope the delay in this startup’s launch isn’t because it’s a victim of last spring’s investment storms. As an industry observer and fan of e-commerce, I certainly hope this is the case. This site does have a neat URL address.

Conclusion
With the exception of one website that’s a little slow out of the starting gate, the e-commerce traffic for the water treatment industry looks alive and well. Water treatment products, services, recommendations and testing are available to go anywhere at any time, day or night.

Websites and their technology will continue to evolve faster than projected revenue for now, but as the platforms are made more available so too shall the rewards prosper. Until then, in my opinion, the ups and downs currently associated with doing business on the Internet will continue.


BREAKOUT:
Websites: Midnight part runs and more
http://www.chemicaldesk.com
Looking to be your online chemical supplier in as little contact time as possible.

http://www.waterinvestments.com
Don’t quit your day trading job if you lost money on the stock market; this site will help you get it all back, and more!

http://www.h2oproducts.com
Water treatment products online all day and night.

http://www.waterdesk.com/
Still waiting for the beef on this next player in the water treatment industry online.

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