By Senior Airman Stuart Bright
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Donte Arrington, 2nd Aerospace Medical Squadron Bioenvironmental engineer, levels out a vial of water so he can test it for chemicals at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., July 31, 2018. Water on Barksdale needs 5:1 chloride to ammonia ratio to keep the it bacteria free. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stuart Bright)
Airman 1st Class Donte Arrington, 2nd Aerospace Medical Squadron Bioenvironmental engineer, fills two vials with water to test them for presence of nitrite at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., July 31, 2018. Arrington’s job requires him to take water samples around Barksdale once a week, checking every location once a month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stuart Bright)
Airman 1st Class Donte Arrington, 2nd Aerospace Medical Squadron Bioenvironmental engineer, examines a water sample at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., July 31, 2018. Arrington has been on Barksdale for three months and is responsible for making sure the water has the proper chemical balance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stuart Bright)
Samples of water run through an ammonia test at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., July 31, 2018. Ammonia is needed to make monochloride, which is what disinfects the water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stuart Bright)
Everyone needs water to survive. Not only do people drink water, but they use it to wash dishes, clothes, their bodies and to load their squirt guns and water balloons.
But what if bacteria got into the water and someone ingested it? This could potentially delay the mission of the 2nd Bomb Wing if Airmen are home because they or their families are sick.
Members of 2nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight take action to ensure members of Team Barksdale are protected from potentially hazardous chemicals or bacteria in their water supply.
“We do qualitative and quantitative health risk assessments to help make the Air Force as a whole safer so Airmen can perform their duties better,” said Airman 1st Class Donte Arrington, 2nd AMDS Bioenvironmental engineer.
Arrington has been at Barksdale for three months. One of his jobs is to check the base’s water supply to make sure chemicals, such as chloride, nitrite and ammonia in the water are at the proper proportions. When the water does not have the proper chemical balance, it may be dangerous to drink.
“We put chlorine and ammonia into the water at a certain ratio, and that helps disinfect our water,” Arrington said. “If we have too much of one or the other that could be a problem for the drinking water. If a sample didn't have enough total chlorine then I would have to call civil engineer environmental and utilities to flush the system.”
After testing the water himself, Arrington uses another set of eyes to run other tests.
“We collect bacteria samples from the water points of contact around the base, testing the water’s free chlorine, total chorine and pH levels,” Arrington said. “We then send our samples off to a state lab where they are tested for E. coli and fecal coliforms. The lab then sends us the results which we track in our data base.”
When going around base for water checks, bioenvironmental engineers hope to have an uneventful trip with the same safe results as the week before.
“A good result for us is not seeing a problem,” said Lt. Col. Marc Sylvander, 2nd AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering flight commander. “When there are problems and you fix them that is good, but a lot of the work we do is proactive in preventing problems. If you have good results with prevention, you won’t see anything.”