By Bob Reinert, USAG Natick Public AffairsMay 2, 2017
NATICK, Mass. (April 25, 2017) -- If someone suggested that you reuse the water that someone had just used to shower, you might hesitate, but some 850 Marines did just that recently in the Arizona desert.
As part of a field exercise at Yuma Proving Ground, members of Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One tested the Shower Water Reuse System, or SWRS, part of the Army's "Force Provider" shelter system, over a five-week period. Personnel from Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems, or PM FSS, spent three days at the beginning of the exercise showing members of Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 how to operate the system.
The SWRS captures and reuses 75 percent of gray water, reducing the number of risky resupply convoys necessary to forward operating bases. That saves Soldiers' lives and millions of dollars.
"The 75-percent recovery rate, that's huge," said Capt. Matt Porter, Force Provider assistant product manager. "That's the intent of this system, is to reduce those resupply rates, and then the second- and third-order effects of that is pulling people off the roads.
"We've had it in the field … since like 2007, 2008. It's been part of the Army Force Provider inventory, but now … we're reaching out to different organizations to utilize it a little more."
Enter the Marines, who currently use the Tactical Water Purification System, or TWPS. This was the Corps' first experience with the SWRS.
"They're used to the TWPS, which is already out in the field," said Ryan Eckert of Force Provider. "A lot of components are the same for each of them. Now it's just tied in with the computer. They've gone from a lot of manual operation with it to a computer now that does everything … pretty much for them.
"So far, they like it. They just basically push a button and walk away."
At Yuma, PM FSS hooked up the SWRS to a 12-head battlefield shower.
"That's what they use," said Eckert of the Marines. "It's not the standard Force Provider shower. (The SWRS connected) to a standard 3,000-gallon water bag, and then the configuration from there was the same."
As Porter pointed out, the system doesn't need to be connected directly to a shower.
"It just needs to be hooked up to a source," Porter said. "You could feasibly pull (water) from any shower source. There are a lot of applications for it. It's just a matter of putting them out into the field."
New to the system in recent months is the ability to process and reuse laundry gray water. According to Porter, software upgrades and changes to rate flow allow the system to handle the lint accumulation typical with laundry.
"It's the same system, same configuration, transparent to the user," Porter said. "There's been no changes to it -- just internally, it operates in a little different manner."
Might there be a future for SWRS with other services, as well?
"We'll discuss it at the Joint Base Expeditionary Working Group," Porter said. "That's kind of the forum to share ideas in contingency basing across the services, obviously. The Army and the Air Force do a lot of the same things with (Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources) and Force Provider."