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News > Certified operators work to provide high-quality water for Robins' public water system
 
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Tallie Daniel, Water Treatment Plant operator, explains the Chlortec onsite chlorine generation system. At Robins, the base water plant employees operate the public water treatment system, providing water for irrigation, industrial purposes and drinking to a workforce of more than 20,000 people. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Aspera)
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Certified operators work to provide high-quality water for Robins' public water system

Posted 3/21/2013   Updated 3/21/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Jenny Gordon
Robins Public Affairs


3/21/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- There are forces at work deep underground and within the 78th Civil Engineer Squadron which allow us to enjoy a simple, clean drink of water.

Known as the Cretaceous Sands aquifer system, about 400 to 500 feet below us, it is the underground layer of sand where much of middle Georgia's water rests and from where it is extracted.

Here at Robins, the base water plant employees operate the public water treatment system, providing water for irrigation, industrial purposes and drinking to a workforce of more than 20,000 people.

No less than six water wells are located across Robins, pushing needed water to four water towers with a total holding capacity of about to 2.25 million gallons.

The wells, which pump water from the aquifer, are all roughly the same size, producing from 900 to 1,100 gallons per minute. The average water usage per month this time of year is 45 million gallons.

In 2012, 556 million gallons of water was distributed to Robins consumers. Maintaining those wells and ensuring the water treatment and distribution system operates properly is the responsibility of a handful of water treatment plant operators from the 78th Civil Engineer Group.

The operators are certified by the state of Georgia and are required to keep up to date with continuing education.

Along with daily monitoring of the water for chlorine, and pH levels, the treated water is tested by Georgia's laboratory on a routine schedule to ensure federal drinking water standards are met. Operators make daily visits to each of the wells to ensure all is running smoothly.

"The wells are continuously monitored," said Tallie Daniel, 78th CES water plant operator. "Twice per day, every day, operators analyze the treated water being produced. We adjust the treatment process as needed at each well house, ensuring great quality water is being introduced into the distribution system."

The operators monitor well capacity monthly by physically measuring the water at each well.

"When 'draw downs' are performed, we gain crucial information on the aquifer itself, and a general knowledge of the water seeping into the well," said Lee Glover, 78th CES water treatment plant supervisor. "In drought periods, we may have less filtration from the water seeping into the wells. During this time of the year, there's more flow into the well and the water table is replenished and maintained by rainfall."

Once water is treated and pumped out of a well house to the distribution system, any which is not consumed is stored in the water towers on base. As water is used, and pressure drops in the system, a well begins extracting water from the aquifer to restore system pressure by refilling one of the four water towers.

Any changes in monitoring or problems which crop up can be immediately detected through an automation system known as a supervisory control and data acquisition system.

For instance, a water tower's level can be remotely monitored, and if a particular area or building needs more water, the system can immediately react and adjust levels.

"We have so much redundancy built into the system that we can actually function on as little as two to three wells," said Wilson Jones, 78th CES civil engineer.

Interestingly, the water's color has the same appearance whether its treated or untreated once it immediately comes up from the ground.

So what happens to ensure good, quality-tasting tap water ends up in base buildings?

Each well has its own treatment system where water is continuously treated with additives to ensure the safety and quality of the water supply. Treatment includes adding a chemical to raise the pH level so it's not corrosive to piping and disinfection of the water by chlorination. Fluoride is added to protect teeth; and the water is softened to prevent mineral buildup and protect pipes.



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