FORT IRWIN, Calif.-Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack joined U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division Commander Col. Pete Helmlinger, Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kirk Gibbs and Fort Irwin and the National Training Center senior leaders in a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completion and operation of the new Fort Irwin water treatment plant, also known as the Irwin Water Works. The ceremony was held in front of the IWW Control Building at Fort Irwin, California Oct. 13.
The Los Angeles District awarded the $100.1 million design-build construction contract to CDM Smith constructors on Sept. 12, 2012 and work began July 15, 2013. Initial construction was completed May 1, and the plant began processing water for the installation. The plant is currently operated by CDM Smith and to be transitioned to Ft. Irwin Department of Public Works with CH2M as the operator after conducting a 90 day prove out period in compliance with its operating permit.
“The Irwin Water Works will provide safe pure drinking water, at low energy cost, and extends the Fort Irwin water supply for up to sixty years,” said Helmlinger. “Today is the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration to overcome the complex challenges of this important project in this harsh environment.”
The IWW and Net Zero
In 2011, Hammack announced the creation of the Army Net Zero Initiative. Net Zero is a holistic strategy founded upon long-standing sustainable practices and incorporates emerging best practices to manage energy, water, and waste at Army installations.
“There are three tenets of Net Zero,” said Hammack. “The third tenet is Net Zero-water and that’s where you utilize as much water as you inject back into the aquifer so that the aquifers remain in balance. That is a challenge when we are in drought conditions because scarcity of clean water is not only an issue here in the state of California, but it is an issue around the world and in many of the areas where our soldiers deploy.”
Hammack also stated that one of the things that Net Zero considers first is conservation because a project has to improve the efficiency of the water that is consumed before you look at other alternative methods of conservation.
The IWW plant is now capable of treating between 2 and 2.5 million gallons of water per day and removes all contaminants found in Fort Irwin's ground water in accordance with federal and state requirements (i.e., arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, and total dissolved solids). The plants total water recovery rate exceeds 99 percent with zero liquid discharge. The IWW zero liquid discharge with evaporation ponds for wastewater meets the Net Zero initiative.
The NTC and water
The NTC and Fort Irwin continues to serve as the Army's premier training center. Approximately, 50,000 soldiers train at the NTC annually and 85 percent of the post permanently assigned community live on post, with an estimated daily population of 26,000 people which adds to the amount of water consumed and utilized for day-to-day operations.
“We call ourselves the crown jewel of the training enterprise delivering brigade level readiness for our force,” said Fort Irwin and the National Training Center Chief of Staff Col. Matthew Moore. “All of the capacity and capabilities of this phenomenal facility are simply not sustainable long term without a sufficient and usable water supply.”
“Unless we have enough water to support the mission here, we don’t have a mission!” said Hammack. “Ensuring that we have a sustainable water source means that we can continue to train and prepare our soldiers to deploy around the world. Because it’s better, safer, to train here than to send an untrained soldier into the field of battle.”
Irwin Water Works
On September 28, 2016 the California Division of Drinking water issued a final approval letter stating that the water system was returned to compliance with respect to arsenic and fluoride.
The modernized domestic use water distribution system is now the single source of water on the installation. Potable water is no longer coming from the reverse osmosis plant, and in the near future the current RO faucets will be disconnected leaving the fort with a-single pipe water distribution system. More than three miles of pipe were constructed to bring untreated water from wells to the IWW and then improve the treated water distributed throughout the cantonment area.
The project was supported USACE wide with team members from Mobile District, Sacramento District, SPD, and the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center. The project has proceeded more than three years with only 2 injuries on the job.
To learn more about the Irwin Water Works and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, visit the official NTC website at https://www.irwin.army.mil