The Department of Defense (DoD) has garnered considerable attention for its initiative to deploy more renewable energy at military facilities worldwide. Green energy goals have pushed facilities to implement distributed energy resources (DER) through integrated microgrids and other solutions to boost system resilience and energy security – all in the name of keeping missions on, even if local grid power is compromised. The benefits are easy enough to understand, but how could personnel perform their missions without an equally critical commodity, water?
High-profile energy projects such as the microgrid under development at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar are starting to evolve and prioritize water’s role in base-wide initiatives. The initial project design included an base’s Energy Operations Center, which will house all microgrid controls for operators, but is now being billed as an Energy and Water Operations Center to include water system monitoring. As military water supply and power continue to become more interconnected, integrated planning will be vital for infrastructure modernization projects.
Aside from supporting mission requirements, DoD facility managers also are faced with similar challenges to water utilities highlighted in this year’s Strategic Directions: Water Report including limited funding, regulatory pressures and aging infrastructure. Fortunately that means that many bases can take lessons learned from industry leaders and adapt best practices to address budgetary restraints, meet compliance mandates and deliver long-term value.
Fort Leonard Wood Installs DoD’s First Ultraviolet Water Purifying System
At Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood, a U.S. Army installation, a regulatory mandate to comply with Safe Drinking Act standards drove installation managers to find an economical technical solution to upgrade their water treatment system. Fort Leonard Wood’s funding under the Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization (SRM) program limited the available funding for the modernization project. While their recently completed water infrastructure long-term capital investment plan (CIP) addressed the required investment to improve the water treatment plant, the plan needed adjustments to respond to the limited availability of funds.
Fort Leonard Wood’s Director of Public Works staff and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Kansas City District worked in partnership with Black & Veatch to develop a CIP approach to provide an ultraviolet (UV) water treatment system in phases that could be implemented as SRM funds became available. The initial construction phase was limited to $2 million in total cost.
The Black & Veatch team also maintains a working relationship with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Public Drinking Water Branch and Directorate of Public Works to ensure that all regulatory requirements are being met with this project to date. The innovative project was the first application of UV disinfectant technology for drinking water treatment in the DoD. The project included the design and construction of UV reactors that provide a clean and reliable water supply for the nearly 14,000 personnel living on base.
By applying state-of-the-art construction techniques and a streamlined technology option, as opposed to chemical treatment, costs were kept to a minimum and stringent project schedule requirements were met. Costs were further minimized by developing a limited occupancy facility and focusing on the industrial aspects of the project.
Smart Infrastructure Investments at Diego Garcia
U.S. Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia is on a small island in the British Indian Ocean and is home to military personnel that provide logistics support to operational forces deployed in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. Like many small islands, freshwater aquifer purity and water distribution provide unique challenges for facility operators.
Diego Garcia’s primary water treatment plant was designed and built prior to the adoption of current U.S.-based potable water quality standards. Interim filtration solutions were implemented but resulted in non-potable water to be distributed from the plant within the existing system, while potable water was delivered by tanker trucks to 300-500 gallon capacity tanks at public facilities and residential and industrial facilities. From there, potable water needed to be hand-carried to end users in each building.
To streamline treatment and distribution, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Far East partnered with a design build firm to design and construct a new 1.2 million gallons per day (MGD) capacity water treatment plant and associated wells, pumping stations, and raw and treated water transmission mains. Black & Veatch was hired by the constructor to manage water treatment technology and design of the facility.
The following design and construction factors contributed to a smart, efficient and sustainable system:
- Optimized Processes – A low-pressure pump station conveys water from existing raw water storage tanks through the pre-filtration system to the nanofiltration (NF) membrane system inlet without the need for further transfer pumping. Redundant treatment units provide a high level of overall system reliability.
- Instrumentation and Control – Modifications to the existing SCADA system were made to control and monitor the existing well water systems and the new well water systems to help inform intelligent asset management decisions.
- Civil/Site – The new water treatment building’s shape and orientation are based on an energy and sustainable design analysis approach. Further, the layout of new piping is optimized to directly connect to the existing system to minimize system loss.
- Architecture/Structure – Design and construction were coordinated to provide a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification. A 25 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic panel array is provided on the roof. The building was designed as an essential facility, with applicable wind and seismic design criteria.
Procured under a design/build contract format, the new treatment plant and distribution system infrastructure provides potable water in compliance with all applicable water quality standards.
Collaboration with State Regulators Streamlines Project Development at Fort Carson
Colorado’s Fort Carson seeks to be a strong community partner to manage water resources, which is vital in the arid western United States. Like many utilities across Colorado, the Fort Carson Wastewater Treatment Plant (FCWWTP) is facing stricter regulations, specifically to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in its treated effluent discharge. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) promulgated Regulation 85 to reduce loading of these nutrients in its waterways. The FCWWTP, which currently serves the base’s soldiers, families and support personnel by treating an average of 1.5 MGD of wastewater daily, does not currently have capability for this level of treatment.
The FCWWTP team partnered with Black & Veatch to develop an innovative solution to treat nutrients by optimizing use of the biology at a wastewater treatment plant. Wastewater treatment, at its core, uses thousands of species of microorganisms purposefully grown in large aerated concrete basins to consume the “food” in the wastewater. These organisms then are removed via clarification, and the water is disinfected with UV light before being released into local waterways.
To save on capital expenditures, portions of the aerated basins will be converted to zones with low oxygen levels to naturally promote growth of microorganisms that consume nitrogen. Further, another basin will be converted to an anaerobic fermenter to grow phosphorusconsuming microorganisms.
This approach will save the facility in operations and maintenance costs otherwise required by traditional methods using chemicals to treat wastewater. The state-of-the-art fermenter process will support treating the base’s wastewater to ensure that water being discharged is even cleaner than state mandates require, resulting in long-term value for Fort Carson and the local community alike. This also positions the facility well to meet anticipated stricter future-state requirements. To help navigate permitting for the project, Black & Veatch also leveraged existing relationships with the state of Colorado to provide early-stage permitting and design.
Adding Value to Military Infrastructure Projects
Though many military facility managers are beginning to understand the value of proactive integrated planning, continued collaboration with industry leaders can help translate water utility best practices for use at DoD facilities. Shifting mindsets in how water is just as critical to supporting missions as physical, aboveground infrastructure will also be vital in adding value to future modernization efforts.