There was so much concern over addressing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) by boats at the annual Northwest Wisconsin Lake Conference Friday, June 21, at Hayward Middle School that one participant suggested the idea of a car wash for boats.

“Actually, there’s a vendor outside with a similar idea,” said another conference participant.

Outside, near the parking lot entrance, stood Mark Apfelbacher, one of the owners of a company named CD3. Nearby was a trailer holding a rectangular apparatus about eight feet long, five feet high and several feet wide. 

The name CD3 stands for “Clean-Drain-Dry-Dispose.” The equipment CD3 sells mostly to governments is a boat-cleaning station that includes pressurized air, a wet-dry vacuum, squeegee-brush, large grabber toggles and a device to remove boat plugs. The units are placed near boat landings to offer those who exit the lake tools to thoroughly clean and remove aquatic invasive species. 

“When you tell your kids to clean their room, if you don’t give them a broom or vacuum they are not going to do as good a job,” Apfelbacher said. “We are trying to give the public the tools to clean, drain, dry and dispose, so when you tell them to do so we have the tools right at the boat launch. As it turns out, a clean boat is a happy boat.” 

The unit is connected to the Internet so use and functionality can be monitored remotely and email messages are sent automatically if equipment is broken or not operating or when the 110-gallon wet/dray tank is full.

CD3 doesn’t use water to clean. 

“Water is the enemy,” he said. “We are addressing AIS, and the point is to remove water.” 

The product was developed with grants from the Legacy Foundation and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It is manufactured in Minnesota with all USA-made parts and is sold in 15 states across the country.

“There is a lot of interest, but state-by-state it varies,” he said. “There are different policies, and different regions have different policies. We have a ton of interest across the country, but selling to the government is slow. We have to be invested in it for the long term.”

The trailered CD3 unit Apfelbacher used for demonstration was one just recently purchased by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. That unit goes for roughly $30,000. The company works with municipalities in acquiring grant and program dollars from federal and state governments to help with the purchase.

The units were tested by the University of Minnesota, which found them effective in removing AIS.

“Instead of having someone there 24/7 to give the public the tools to take the actions, CD3 systems provide the tools so people clean, drain and dry their boats,” he said. “That’s the best management practice. It’s a long-term solution at the boat launch. We are seeing a 70 percent reduction in violation rates for AIS when an inspector is not present, so people are using the tools more when an inspector is not present. It’s what the research has found. Sometimes when an inspector is there, the boaters feel like they’ve done the job they need to do, but when nobody is there, they are actually more likely to clean their boat if they have the tools.” 

The CD3 units can also act as a Wi-Fi hub to push information to the public online. Units also have solar-powered lights to illuminate boats from the top and ground level when sunlight is low.

Apfelbacher, a professional landscape architect, formed the company with Edgar Rudberg, a Ph.D. in natural resources. He said his motivation in starting the company was to do his part to preserve resources for his kids.

“I got involved with AIS because I don’t see my children being able to do the things I have been able to do,” he said. “Someone has got to step up to make a change and provide the tools to the public.”

According to Apfelbacher, there is no other product like CD3 on the market.

Besides the trailered version, the company sells a unit designed to be grid-connected, as well as a smaller unit with fewer options.

To contact CD3, call (612) 414-0961, email or visit The website offers several videos showing the CD3 units in action. 

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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