Providing Whiteman with high quality H2O

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Water is a vital source in human life. Without it, survival is impossible. It contributes to every aspect of life, especially here at Whiteman Air Force Base.

The 509th Civil Engineer Squadron water plant works 24/7 to ensure the base populace receives consistent purified water for most common needs such as showering and consumption, but also firefighting and maintaining the B-2 Spirit.

"Our job is to treat the water," said Senior Airman Stacey Miramontes, 509th CES water and fuels maintenance journeyman. "We take samples from five different parts during the water treatment process: tap, effluent (after filtered), influent (before filtered), softening basin and the raw (well)."

To begin the treatment process, the water is pulled from the well, according to Miramontes.

When the water is pulled from the ground into the well, it goes through a process called air ration involving the removal of hydrogen sulfide, which causes a "rotten egg" odor. The water plant uses an air rater to rid the water of hydrogen sulfide.

"Once the water is pulled, we add chlorine, carbon dioxide (CO2) and lime to the water," Miramontes said. "Lime is used to soften the water to prevent hardness and stains. For example, it helps prevent stains on dishes at the dining facility. Depending on how much CO2 is in the water could determine whether the pH goes up or down before it enters the filter. If there is less CO2 put into the water, it will cause the pH to go up and vice-versa. The lime causes the pH to elevate and the CO2 bring it down to a more stable range."

Additionally, the water plant runs a series of tests throughout the day, putting chemicals in the water to see how much of an element it has and its reaction. Water samples are taken during the process to ensure the water is within the required state regulated ranges. Operators are required to adjust the chemicals to maximize treatment of the water within the softening basin.

The team run tests on alkalinity and pH to monitor acceptable ranges (not too acidic not too basic) for consumption and other usage. The water plant team must also ensure there is enough chlorine in the water to remove any harmful bacteria that may be present.

"We test the chlorine, pH, alkalinity, fluoride, hardness and phosphate," Lynn said. "Fluoride and phosphate is tested once a day and the others are tested every two hours."

To ensure the base receives a consistent water supply, the water plant maintains a tower level of water by refilling the towers, according to Senior Airman Brandon Lynn, 509th CES water and fuels maintenance journeyman.

"We use high service pumps to pump the water from the clear well to the tower," Lynn said. "When the tower levels drop, we have to turn on the high service pumps to fill up the tower. When we turn the pumps off, the clear well is filled with water. This is a repetitious process."

The clear well is viewed as the "storage area," maintaining a steady water supply to refill the tower.

Within the water plant, the team displays a sense of passion and responsibility, for they know the vital resource they monitor is indispensable to the Whiteman mission.

"Water is needed every day, 24/7," Miramontes said. "I enjoy doing my job knowing I impact the mission in ensuring Airmen receive treated and healthy water."