Get to know your H2O

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Regan Spinner
  • 86TH Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Depending on who you ask, water either has flavor or tastes like nothing at all. Regardless of which team you're on, the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron is responsible for the clean water that supplies Ramstein Air Base and the surrounding Geographically Separated Units in the Kaiserslautern Military Community area.

The 786th CES produces approximately one million gallons of water daily, pulling from multiple wells around RAB, that goes through three different stages of treatment.

“To process the water we have two stages of filtration and a stage of disinfection of chemicals,” said Airman 1st Class Patrick Aizpurua, 786th CES water systems maintenance apprentice. “The first stage of filtration would be the hardening filters.”

The hardness of water is determined by the measurement of how many minerals are in the water. When the water is brought to the facility, the water is first hardened and then filtered to remove all of the debris that comes out of the ground with it. Filtration is a 20-minute process, with water being pushed through three separate activated carbon filters, which act as a microscopic strain, removing all the chemicals and particles within the water. Even with all the filtering however, the job is not yet over.

According to Aizpurua, fluoride is added to the water, a routine that America began in the 1940s, to help lower the rate of cavities in the people drinking the water. These levels are tested on a daily basis along with the PH balance to make sure the water isn’t too acidic or basic.

After the water has been put through filtration and testing, it is deemed safe for consumption and is stored in a secured location under lock and key. If a foreign object enters the holding center in the storage unit, the water would be determined as contaminated and every single gallon would need to be disposed of.

Airmen at the 786th CES have several responsibilities when it comes to testing the water, to include testing the water in the pool at the Aquatic Center, maintenance and repair of all the potable water lines on base, fire hydrant flow testing and the transportation of wastewater off base daily for treatment.

“The safe drinking water we provide directly affects the quality of life for everyone on Ramstein as well as several GSUs around the KMC area,” said Tech. Sgt. Alexander Kendrick, 786th CES water plant operations noncommissioned officer in charge. “Thousands of people depend on the water provided by the water treatment facility every day, so we take our job very seriously to ensure our product adheres to standards.”

The mission of the water treatment plant is to provide pure, safe, and reliable drinking water for the base populace while also being good stewards of our natural resources and the environment

“Most people don’t think twice about the importance of water when considering the overall mission at Ramstein," said Kendrick. “Hydration, food preparation, firefighting capabilities and sanitation, are all important to the mission, and all rely on the availability of potable water.”