4th AMDS, CES work together to keep base water safe

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Aubrey Robinson
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In a combined effort, Airmen from the 4th Civil Engineer and 4th Aerospace Medicine Squadrons work daily to make certain base residents have water free of hazardous chemicals.

Water and fuels systems maintainers from the 4th CES spend a great deal of every work day ensuring the water used on base is safe. The primary way they do this is taking samples from several locations and testing the chlorine and pH levels.

"There are three valve pits where water enters from the city onto the base," said Senior Airman Kataryna Bigham, 4th CES water and fuels systems maintenance journeyman. "The pits are inspected daily to make sure the chlorine and pH levels are where they need to be."

The valve pits are also inspected to make sure they have not been tampered with.

If a sample is found to be one or more points above the approved Environmental Protection Agency levels the base bioenvironmental lab is immediately contacted to conduct further testing.

"Our mission is to prevent environmental hazards prior to them occurring," said Staff Sgt. Sherring Goodwin, 4th AMDS environmental surveillance non-commissioned officer in charge. "My primary job is dealing with our water."

Bioenvironmental engineers and apprentices select 14 samples from several locations around base once a month and send a majority of the samples to a bacti testing lab in Greenville, N.C. The remainder of the samples are mixed with colilert reagent powder, used to detect E. coli and coliform, and then placed in an incubator. If the sample turns a deep shade of yellow after 24-hours of incubation, E. coli or coliform bacteria have been found.

In addition to testing for bacteria, bioenvironmental flight performs other readings necessary for ensuring healthy chemical levels in the water.

"Because chlorine sometimes reacts with water and metal in the piping systems, we also check for Trihalomethanes, a disinfectant byproduct of chlorine," Goodwin said. "For the child development center we have to do lead and copper readings to make sure the children aren't being exposed to toxins."

When such hazards are found, the bioenvironmental engineers incorporate supplementary preventative measures. In turn, they terminate water flow from the tainted location.

With combined leg work and preventative health hazard efforts, 4th AMDS bioenvironmental engineer flight and 4th CES water and fuels systems maintainers will continue to ensure the base population has safe and consumable water.