June 25, 2005
By Pfc. Occoless Trotter
BLACKSTONE, Va. -- The work of the water specialists of the 222nd Support Detachment, or the “Triple Deuce”, is to provide potable water for the Soldiers in the field.
The "Triple Deuce" is attached to 429th Forward Support Battalion based in Staunton, Va. During this year’s annual training, which was held at Fort Pickett, Va., the team’s main function was to collect, and store purified water in 20,000-gallon blivets, which are basically giant bags. Additionally, members of the detachment test the water’s pH level every hour in order to ensure purity, said Sgt. 1st Class James Funkhouser, the detachment’s platoon sergeant.
According to Funkhouser, the purification process starts at a body of water, such as a river, lake or ocean, where the water is pumped into a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU) and treated with chlorine to further remove any impurities, including salt, if necessary.
After the purification process is completed, the clean water is sent through a Tactical Water Distribution System (TWDS), which is a 6-inch by 10-mile hose line connected to a 600 gallon per minute (GPM) pump. An individual TWDS unit can be connected to other TWDS units as many times as necessary to get to the Water Point. At this point, the water makes its way to the Water Distribution System (WDS), where it is divided among two 20,000 gallon blivets and connected to either a 350 or 125 GPM pump that distributes the water into water buffaloes, tankers, five-gallon cans or individual canteens.
The “Triple Deuce” also had a scaled down site set up closer to their battalion site called the Forward Area Water Point Supply System (FAWPSS). The site was equipped with two interchangeable 500-gallon blivets and a 125 GPM pump used mainly during wartime to push water to the frontline. The FAWPSS site has the capacity to fill water cans and canteens.
If a problem exists somewhere within the 10-mile line, a Soldier E-6 or above must walk the line to find and repair the problem , according to Staff Sgt. Marie L. Diaz, readiness NCO and water purification specialist. “It’s a big risk, especially if we have to be escorted to the frontline,” Diaz said.
In order to ensure the water remains clean, the “Triple Deuce” Detachment will run the aforementioned pH and chlorine residual test once an hour. The Army standard for pH level in water is 7, a neutral pH, and is tested with a color comparator kit. The test involved pouring water from the blivets into two small test cylinders. After adding Wide Range Indicator Solution, which indicates pH level, into one of the cylinders, the tester compares the color from the water solution in the cylinder to the Color Comparator Kit to establish pH level, according to Sgt. Gene H. Potter Jr., water distribution specialist.
During combat situations, the “Triple Deuce” has to transport water to the forward positions. To keep this process efficient, the detachment has six teams of five Soldiers, including one driver to each team, to transport water to forward positions. Funkhouser stated that the “Triple Deuce’s” biggest danger lies within transporting forward. “Water is a big necessity,” said Funkhouser. “So we’re always a big target.”
Regardless of possible combat dangers, the Soldiers of the “Triple Deuce” handle their job with pride and are prepared to ensure the safekeeping and transport of drinking water to the troops when they need it most.