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Airmen keep water flowing at Tallil

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- When airmen here turn on a water faucet to brush their teeth or take a shower, they may not think about where the water comes from. But it takes six airmen working 12-hour shifts to keep the water flowing here around the clock.

The pressure on them to keep water on tap is high because running potable water is vital to operations here, officials said.

“The water production plant (here) is what makes this bare base into a sustaining base,” said Master Sgt. Sirichai Wanchai, 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron utilities superintendent. “Without the water plant … we would not have as many military personnel here to support the mission.”

“We’ve been producing about 115,000 gallons of water a day,” said Staff Sgt. Donnie Bogan, noncommissioned officer in charge of the base’s water plant. “We’re running the water purification units hard.”

Water is in limited supply in this region, said Bogan, who is deployed from Yokota Air Base, Japan.

“(Base residents are) not at home, and I don’t think they realize that,” Bogan said. “We’re working around the clock just to keep them (with) water.”

Demand has doubled since nicer shower and latrine units were installed, but airmen and the coalition forces staying in tent city are still urged to conserve water by taking combat showers, officials said.

A combat shower is when an airman strips, steps into a shower, rinses for a minute, shuts the water off and lathers up, then rinses off for two minutes.

Before water reaches tent city, it flows through one of eight reverse-osmosis water-purification units, which strips the impurities from the water, making it potable.

“Once water processes through one of these, it’s probably purer than bottled water,” Bogan said.

When the water is ready for consumption, it flows to the Air Force dining facility, laundry services, latrines, showers and to the Army’s dining facility.

Bogan’s crew checks the water for total dissolved solids, potential of hydrogen and chlorine.

For every 100 gallons that flows in, only 40 gallons make it to tent city for use. The rest is called brine water, and it is sent to a 50,000-gallon holding tank and distributed around base to wash the base’s vehicles and equipment.

Storage at the plant is limited to eight water bladders that each hold 20,000 gallons of potable water and a 50,000-gallon tank that is used to store water as it comes in from the source.

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