Kunsan airmen tackle water curtailment during exercise

by Capt. Kaylee Ausbun, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Kunsan Air Base

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Members of the 8th Fighter Wing began receding from water curtailment measures Oct. 7, 2016, 37 hours after they were initiated in the middle of exercise Beverly Pack 17-1.

Halfway through the five-day exercise, Kunsan Air Base and surrounding areas encountered increased winds and rain associated with Typhoon Chaba, resulting in increased sediment and debris in one source of water for Kunsan.

Airmen from the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron switched the water flow to another source in order to clean out the clogged filters. Shortly after making the switch, airmen discovered a valve that allows water to flow onto base had become inoperable, leaving Kunsan with one option; initiate water conservation efforts until a steady flow of water was available.

“With the amount of mixed up sediment and debris on our filters, we were replacing them every 30 minutes," said Senior Master Sgt. James Onder, 8th CES Infrastructure superintendent. “As soon as we saw that the valve was faulty, we knew we had to act quickly because we were limited to the water we had stored in the towers.”

Around 1 p.m. Oct. 5, 2016, U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force members were notified of the issue and were asked to follow strict water conservation efforts such as limiting water use for hydration and basic hygiene needs like brushing teeth and shaving. Other routines that expel a lot of water like showering and doing laundry, were put on hold until 8th CES could maintain a steady flow of water to the base.

“Asking our maintainers, defenders and other airmen who just finished a 12-hour shift wearing additional protective equipment to not shower was not an easy decision to make,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Kolesiak, 8th CES commander. “However, it was necessary to conserve the water we had on hand until a permanent fix was in place.”

Multiple units responded with ways airmen could meet their basic needs including water buffalos and portable toilets placed in various locations on base, and plans for dissemination of bottled water and hand sanitizer if a steady flow of water continued to be unavailable.

By working around the clock, 8th CES, the Red Devils, were able to clean out the clog from the original water source, sending water to begin processing through the water treatment plant and ultimately fill back up water towers on base. In the meantime, 8th CES airmen continued to repair the faulty valve connecting water to the base.

While repairs were being made to the water line, engineers fully utilized a number of contingency assets kept on base for water production. One team produced thousands of gallons of water with a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit. A second team of 8th CES airmen distributed the water around base in water buffalos.

“Our engineers could not have done this without coordinating across the base,” said Kolesiak. “Defenders from the 8th Security Forces Squadron used their vehicles to move water buffalos. Logistics readiness professionals provided the equipment and supplies needed to purify and transport the water. 8th Force Support Squadron airmen stood ready to provide additional potable water had it been required. Bioenvironmental engineers ensured that the water produced is safe to drink. This was truly an installation-wide response.”

Beginning at 2 a.m. Oct. 7, 2016, 8th CES airmen began restoring water to buildings in staggered, formulated process to fix any leaks, clogs or other issues as soon as they were identified. Kunsan has lifted all curtailment measures at this time, however airmen are reminded to continue using water conservation efforts per normal operations.

“I could not be more proud of this Wolf Pack team,” said Col. Todd Dozier, 8th FW commander. “In the face of real world and exercise challenges, the professionalism displayed by these airmen is second to none.”

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