Drink UP: program serves warfighter, family

DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Clean water is something we take for granted. But what if a harmful contaminant enters the drinking water?

American Water, a Defense Logistics Agency Energy utility services contractor, helped the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal facility located in Jefferson, New Jersey, correct a water quality issue.

“In order to resolve the issue Picatinny Arsenal, DLA Energy and American Water worked decisively to put into action a plan that would reduce these harmful containments to a non-detect level as quickly as possible,” said DLA Energy Utility Services Branch Chief Ken Richardson.

The issue was discovered as part of American Water’s routine sampling program. As the system owner on Picatinny Aresenal, American Water has an installation-approved sampling plan that meets federal, state, local and installation requirements.

“Potable water samples taken (on Picatinny Arsenal) between January and March determined that the perfluorinated compounds in the potable water were above the lifetime health advisory limits established by the Environmental Protection Agency,” Richardson said.

The results were provided to the Army installation and both parties reviewed the results and determined appropriate action. Immediately, the DLA Energy contracting officer issued a request for proposal to American Water on March 28, he explained. American Water responded with a recommendation to install a Granular Activated Carbon Filtration System. The government accepted the proposal as the most effective and efficient solution and a modification was executed on April 11 with a 90-day performance period.

While American Water was installing the filtration system, Picatinny Arsenal led the effort to notify its population of the situation.

Picatinny Arsenal provided more than 58 pallets of bottled water to installation personnel and families until the point at which the potable water tested in compliance with the EPA.

American Water completed the installation of the GAC filtration system on May 19 and began flushing the entire water distribution system shortly thereafter.

“The design, implementation, construction, treatment and elimination of the contaminant was completed in 38 days, significantly ahead of schedule,” Richardson said.

On May 29, the potable water system testing was completed by American Water and results indicated that perfluorinated compounds were at a non-detection level at the Picatinny Arsenal. 

“What’s important is the ability of utility privatization programs to resolve critical issues quickly – because a contract vehicle is already in place,” said DLA Energy Utility Services Director Martha Gray.

DLA Energy’s efforts to privatize utilities on military installations enables a flexible and responsive partnership between the base and the system owner versus traditional contracting methods.

“This incident demonstrates how an installation with a privatized system can resolve a complex problem in a deliberate, efficient, and effective manner,” Richardson said. “Through the utility privatization program, DLA Energy can provide the military services with contracting solutions tailored to the warfighter and designed to reduce the risk associated with containments in potable water systems.”

DLA Energy Utility Services supports the military services’ utility privatization programs to build energy security and resiliency by improving utility systems at military installations across the U.S.

“Utilities privatization is a method by which military installations can obtain safe, reliable, technologically current and environmentally sound utility systems at a relatively lower cost than they would under continued government ownership,” Gray said. “In the privatization process, military installations shift from the role of owner operators to that of smart utility service customers.”