News | July 19, 2018

Marine Corps explores graywater capability to reduce logistical footprint

By Kaitlin Kelly, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication Marine Corps Systems Command

When it comes to Marines and their equipment, the Marine Corps is focused on the concepts of smaller, faster, lighter and modular.


The Fuel and Water Systems Team at Marine Corps Systems Command put this focus into action in the spring when it explored graywater recycling aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, with Marines from Combat Logistics Regiment 25.

The team took the existing Lightweight Water Purification System, or LWPS, and added a vendor prototype system called the Graywater Reuse Filtration System, which is an add-on module that allows Marines to purify graywater (dirty water from laundry and shower systems) and reuse it while on missions. The LWPS is an expeditionary, modular, lightweight and scalable water purification system that can produce potable water from fresh, brackish, and salt water.

During the experiment, the GRFN filtered the graywater to remove body hair, lint, dirt, detergents, and oils producing raw water. The LWPS then cleansed the raw water using reverse osmosis, which allowed it to be reintroduced into the laundry and shower systems as clean, usable water.

“If the concept of graywater reuse is pursued further by the Marine Corps, it will significantly reduce Marines’ logistical footprint,” said Jonathan York, Team Lead for the Fuel and Water Team in Engineer Systems. “It will allow Marines greater self-sufficiency in austere environments for a longer period of time without resupply. This capability would be beneficial not only for warfighting purposes, but during natural disasters and other humanitarian efforts by providing displaced persons with clean clothes and showers.”

Similar technologies exist in the Army and Air Force, but those systems are too large and costly, and not expeditionary, York said. By using the LWPS with a graywater pretreatment system, engineers can add capability to the existing LWPS, adapting it to different missions that Marines may encounter. MCSC proved it could incorporate a simple add on module to already owned water systems, providing greater capability and saving time and money.

“By using a graywater recycling system, it would dramatically reduce the logistical burden placed on the Marine Corps with regard to man hours and equipment,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Miller, project officer for Family of Water Systems in Engineer Systems.

“It will reduce the resources needed to purify, store, transport and distribute the water where it needs to go.”

Once the operating forces define the requirement, the Fuel and Water Team will put their experiment into action by developing and acquiring an add-on capability to existing water systems.

“With this graywater recycling capability, we’re able to prolong the time between logistical runs which takes more vehicles off the road and decreases the exposure to improvised explosive devices and other types of threats,” said Miller.

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Marine Corps Systems Command website.