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What’s in my water

By Senior Airman Stuart Bright 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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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.”

Whether Team Barksdale is drinking their water, using it to clean or for summer recreation, they can rest easy knowing someone is taking care of them.