July 1, 2009

429th BSB fields new water purification system

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — A company of Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the 429th Brigade Support Battalion fielded their new water purification system for the first time on the banks of a small lake at Fort Pickett June 24.

  429th BSB water purification

A Soldier of Company A, 429th Brigade Support Battalion sprays water from a hose attached to the Tactical Water Purification System at Fort Pickett during annual training June 24. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers of Company A, 429th BSB set up and operated the Tactical Water Purification System for the first time as part of their annual training. The introduction of the system marks the first time in Virginia Army National Guard history that they will have water purifying capabilities on this scale, according to Lt. Col. Mike Swanson, battalion commander.

The TWPS, which can be set up and operational in six hours, was up and running in four and a half hours by the Virginia Guard Soldiers, according to Woodbridge resident Staff Sgt. Marie Diaz, section chief.

Once the system is set up and running it incorporates an advanced micro-filtration system to filter out silt and biological materials and disease-causing microorganisms. It is equipped with high salt rejection, reverse osmosis technology to produce drinking water from extremely salty seawater. This capability would be very valuable in domestic disaster relief missions, including floods and hurricanes, as well as overseas contingency operations, according to Swanson.

"A lot of people don't realize the bottled water they buy commercially is actually made by reverse osmosis water purifying units," said Swanson. "Unless it is actual mineral spring water, most bottle water is the same water made by this equipment here."

Producing up to 1,500 gallons of potable water per hour in environments up to 120 degrees and as low as -25 in a short period of time will be beneficial to the Guard’s operational success, according to Capt. Bryan Hamilton, company commander.

  429th BSB water purification system

Staff Sgt. Marie Davis from Woodbridge, Va., fills a 3,000 gallon "onion" bag with lake water that has been purified by the Tactical Water Purification Syatem. Compnay A, 429th Brigade Support Battalion fielded the TWPS during their two-week annual training at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

“The ability to produce water in two hours is pretty significant,” said Hamilton.

According to Sgt. Aaron Britton, section leader for the system operators, the TWPS can produce with the three bags it has for transporting the filtered water, up to 9,000 gallons of water at a time. As those bags go out to different units and rotate back in they can constantly refill those bags and cyclically send them out.

“The machine can run 20 hours a day with four hours for maintenance,” said Britton. “They can run pretty much continuously.”

“This system is just an awesome system,” he said. “I love this system!”

The TWPS, which can be set up by six Soldiers and operated by as few as four, will replace 600GPH reverse osmosis water purification units, according to Britton. Each TWPS can replace two of the 600GPH units and employment will reduce manpower requirements at each water point by 25 percent, and will also provide substantial reductions in the combat service support footprint.


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