by Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
36th Wing Public Affairs
6/11/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Water is the essence of life and likewise essential to support any military operation.
At Andersen Air Force Base, specially trained Airmen are able to turn untested water into potable H2O.
Airmen from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, who are Pacific Air Forces
Command Silver Flag instructors, train service members from Air Force
bases, other military branches and different nations once a month on how
to properly use the unit known as a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification
Unit 1500 (ROWPU 1500).
"[During Silver Flag] learning how to use the ROWPU is important because
Airmen, particularly water and fuels systems maintainers, possess the
organic capability to produce, store and establish a potable water
source for self-sustainment and support purposes," said Tech. Sgt.
Roshia Johari, 554th RED HORSE NCO in charge of water and fuels systems
maintenance contingency training.
The purification process starts with detecting a viable water source,
which can be fresh, brackish or even saltwater. As soon as a water
source is established, crews connect two raw water pumps that push water
from the source to the ROWPU 1500. The water then goes through three
types of filtration: the first stage is a four-layer multimedia filter,
the second stage uses a bag filter and the third stage uses eight
reverse osmosis elements.
As Airmen push water through the filtration process, they add functional
chemicals to purify and disinfect the water. After the water has left
the last stage of filtration from the reverse osmosis elements, the
newly potable water is tested by the 36th Medical Operations Squadron
Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight technicians, who verify the water is
safe to consume. When the water is deemed safe, it is then stored and
utilized for drinking, personal hygiene, sanitation, food preparation or
medical support in an expeditionary environment.
Since most water on Guam is considered clear water, the ROWPU 1500 is
used primarily for training purposes. Even though the water is
considered fresh, it isn't considered potable until it has been treated
through the ROWPU.
The ROWPU's "1500" designator stands for the machine's ability to purify
1,500 gallons of water per hour if pulling from a salt water source.
The cleaner the source is, the more potable water the ROWPU can produce
per hour, Johari said. If filtering fresh water, the ROWPU can produce
up to 2,200 gallons of potable water per hour.
In addition to filtering out selenium, iron, magnesium and chloride from
water sources, the ROWPU also has the capability to filter out nuclear,
biological and chemical contaminants by installing additional
deionization cartridges. During the disaster relief effort of Operation
Tomodachi following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, U.S. military units
utilized ROWPUs to cleanse water contaminated by radiation.
A minimum of two Airmen are needed to operate the ROWPU. With proper
training and experience, the purification process can take as little as
an hour to complete.
The ROWPU can be considered a vital asset to deployed troops or anyone in a location where clean water is scarce.
"ROWPU operations are vital, because we cannot survive without water,"
said Master Sgt. Brian DuBord, 554th RHS infrastructure superintendent.