As reported in the Daily News Hollogram, at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, specially trained Airmen are turning untested water into potable H2O, and training others to do the same.
The United States Pacific Air Forces Command Silver Flag instructors from the 554th Red Horse Squadron train service members from US Air Force bases, other military branches, and different nations once each month on how to properly use the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU) 1500.
“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, the 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 water is moved through the filtration process, functional chemicals are used to purify and disinfect it. After the water has left the last stage of filtration from the reverse osmosis elements, the water is tested to verify that it is safe to consume.
Since most water on Guam is considered clear water, the ROWPU 1500 is used primarily for training purposes.
ROWPU’s “1500” designator is a nod to the machine’s ability to purify 1,500 gallons of water per hour, if it’s using a salt water source. The cleaner the source is, the more potable water produced per hour, Johari said. When filtering fresh water, the unit can produce up to 2,200 gallons of potable water per hour.
In addition to filtering out selenium, iron, magnesium, and chloride from water, the machine also has the capability to filter out nuclear, biological and chemical contaminants with the addition of deionization cartridges. During the disaster relief efforts that followed the 2011 earthquake in Japan, U.S. military units used ROWPU to clean water contaminated by radiation.
ROWPU is a vital asset to the United States deployed troops, emergency situations, and anyone in a location where clean water is scarce.