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II MEF (FWD) treads water status, stays afloat

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200542582344
Story by Lance Cpl. Aaron P. Mankin

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (April 21, 2005) -- The malfunctioning of several water pumps caused service members to restrict water usage in living quarters here April 18. The water was shut off to hard-stand buildings for two days and service members walked to trailers with facilities to accommodate hygiene needs.

There are six pumps located along the Euphrates River which are used to pump water to the camp here. All but one pump experienced mechanical difficulties, according to Steve D. Wriggle, operator, Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit, Kellogg, Brown and Root.

“We have six pumps to do a job that only takes about two pumps,” said Wriggle. “We have the others there if one goes down. It just so happened that something was wrong with five of them at the same time.”

Pumping water from the Euphrates River is the first step included in providing water to the troops here. An average of 10 gallons is used by each person per day.

“This camp goes through about 150,000 gallons-a-day,” said Earnest A. Long, operator, Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit, KBR.

In order to preserve resources, those on camp are urged to use as little water as possible from the hard-stand buildings.

“It would be much better if they [service members] used the trailers,” according to Lance Cpl. Erica Plaza-Hernandez, water pump operator, II MEF Headquarters Group Engineers, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). “We can control how much water goes to the trailers and we only have so much water we can pump each day.”

According to Long, it takes two days to get the water from the river and then treat it before it goes to the buildings for everyone to use.

“A lot of our water is used in the afternoons at the chow hall and while people are taking showers after their workouts,” explained Plaza-Hernandez. “We should all be taking shorter showers. You can turn the water off when you’re not brushing your teeth and even check to make sure the faucets are off at the chow hall after washing your hands. That’s a big waste of water right there,” she said.

Once the water is used in the hard-stand buildings it drains through an underground network of pipes. Most pipes are made out of PVC and have cracked over the years causing the water to not drain properly. Marines and Sailors are working together to find the damaged pipes and replace them.

“We dug down about 10 feet to find the problem and we’re sure we’ve found it,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Roger O. Smith, utilitiesman, Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 1, II MEF (FWD). “These pipes could have cracked for a number of reasons. We are trying to get them fixed so the water has a place to go once it’s used.”

During the process of locating the faulty pipe, the water was shut off to hard-stand buildings.

“Water problems can be some of the hardest to fix,” said Staff Sgt. James D. Otto, maintenance chief, II MHG Engineers, II MEF (FWD). “We turn the water off in order to fix the problem. The only way to know if it is really fixed is to turn the water back on. If it leaks we keep working. If it doesn’t we’re done.”

Marines and Sailors continue to work together alongside their contractor counterparts to resolve any issues with the water system here.

“A water shortage is nothing we should have to worry about while I’m here,” said Smith, a Granville, N.Y. native. “I’m not saying you’ll always have water, but we are working to make sure it stays on.”

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