Fort Leonard Wood is the first Department of Defense installation within the continental United States to use an ultraviolet light treatment system for drinking water purification, according to the post's Directorate of Public Works.

The $11.2 million total investment will ensure Fort Leonard Wood residents have clean and safe water that meets new Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The Directorate of Public Works, along with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, installed the UV light disinfection system, constructed a separate facility for the chemical-feed system, and replaced failing pumps with high-circulations pumps.

The installation of the equipment is expected to be completed and fully operational early next year.

Most U.S. water systems must meet new EPA standards that require better control of germs that are resistant to common disinfection methods, such as chlorine.

"Rather than add more chemicals to our drinking water, Fort Leonard Wood chose a non-chemical method," said Bobby Rakes Jr., director, DPW.

The new UV system isn't the only upgrade to the post's water treatment facility.

The chemical storage and treatment process will be replaced with new systems to provide a higher level of safety for the plant operators and the general public.

Storage tanks in the new facility will have secondary containment and overfill alarms to prevent spills, an air scrubber to remove chlorine from the building exhaust system in the event of an accidental chlorine release, and a new pumping facility to improve water distribution.

"These changes provide health benefits to the consumers of the water and provide a safer working environment for the water treatment plant workers," Rakes added. "We started working toward these changes more than three years ago."

Rakes said the improvements are the result of planning and programming efforts to secure project funding and approval through the Unspecified Minor Military Construction Army program.

"The Corps of Engineers was our design and construction agent. Together we did all the planning, and then locally funded and approved the vast majority of the repair work, in addition to the centrally funded and approved UV light treatment system," Rakes said.

On an average day, Fort Leonard Wood uses more than 2.4 million gallons of water.

"With all of the new upgrades, our water will be cleaner and safer than ever before," Rakes said.