Treatment of Wastewater and Drinking Water

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The delivery of clean and safe drinking water and the effective treatment of wastewater to protect public health and the environment, and maximize operational flexibility are all essential for the Department of Defense to meet its mission. Advances in the treatment of drinking water and wastewater at fixed installations and at forward operating bases (FOBs) can significantly contribute to meeting the Department’s sustainability goals, reduce operational costs, and improve mission performance.

The Department of Defense maintains and operates wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities at many of its fixed installations in the United States. DoD provides drinking water to 3.4 million people living and working on DoD installations. It operates more than 100 domestic wastewater facilities. These facilities use conventional treatment plants to treat drinking water and wastewater. They are energy intensive and critical to the operation of the installation.

For deployed forces and expeditionary success, water is paramount. One of the largest shipments of supplies to the tactical edge is the delivery of water. Current U.S. military contingency operations underscore a need for more sustainable FOBs. FOBs have been vital in supporting the expeditionary and campaign capabilities of the U.S. military, but building and sustaining FOBs have incurred significant costs in terms of both dollars spent and lives lost. Supplying FOBs with water and removing wastewater are both significant challenges, but they also represent significant opportunities to tackle a primary obstacle to more effective and sustainable FOBs. Treatment facilities at FOBs vary depending on the size and purpose of the forward operating base. In general, the smaller, more austere locations rely on relatively primitive methods for managing water resources. Treatment options become more sophisticated as the base matures and takes on a more enduring role. Reducing energy and water usage for wastewater treatment will have a direct impact on the safety of the troops by reducing the amount of fuel and water that must be transported to the FOB.

SERDP and ESTCP are developing innovative technologies to improve the treatment of wastewater and drinking water and maximize the potential for reuse at both fixed installations and FOBs. Current efforts include the following:

Wastewater Treatment

Given the energy and water usage associated with wastewater treatment facilities, there is significant potential to improve operations to make them more sustainable and secure. SERDP and ESTCP efforts are focused on developing sustainable wastewater treatment facilities for the military’s FOBs and developing innovative, energy efficient, low maintenance systems for decentralized treatment and recycling of wastewater on fixed military installations in the United States.

Drinking Water Treatment

Drinking water treatment at DoD installations must meet the same requirements as standards set for other public water systems. SERDP and ESTCP efforts are focused on developing treatment technologies for removal of contaminants in groundwater that are present in very low concentrations (low ppb). Treatment of contaminants such as perchlorate and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) has been the focus of recent efforts.

FY 2020 New Start Project Selections

FY 2020 New Start Project Selections for the Environmental Solicitation – SERDP; ESTCP

Technical Report:
Sustainable Forward Operating Bases (2010)
Technical Report:
Characterization of DoD Installation Wastewater Treatment (2012)

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