By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher (U.S. Army CommunicationsElectronics Command (CECOM))December 12, 2017
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Technology and team work were instrumental in reducing water use at Tobyhanna Army Depot by more than 50 percent -- two years ahead of the Net Zero 2020 goal.
Environmental experts here were relentless when it came to implementing water-efficient tools and practices. Underground sensors made leaky pipes a thing of the past and who knew there were so many ways to use recycled water. As a result, the installation now uses only 25 percent of its drinking water capacity providing plenty of wiggle room for additional workload or personnel in the future.
Tobyhanna's efforts reduced water use to 42 million gallons in 2017. Peak water usage in the last 30 years was about 170 million gallons.
"Cutting water use by half seemed impossible in the beginning," said Tom Wildoner, an environmental protection specialist in the depot's Risk Management Division. "We liked the challenge, so we volunteered to participate."
In October 2010, the former Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment announced the creation of the Army Net Zero Pilot Installation Initiative. To launch the Net Zero Initiative, the Army identified pilot installations to serve as test beds in identifying best practices and sound approaches that could be leveraged enterprise-wide across the Army.
Installing the Acoustic Leak Detection System has saved millions of gallons of potable water by using underground sensors, strategically placed within the depot's water distribution system. When used in conjunction with water pressure monitoring, environmentalists here say it has proven to be a formidable system in helping to find and repair leaks.
Tobyhanna's strategy to reduce overall water use also included improving processes by recycling and reusing water.
The rain test facility boasts a system that allows personnel to reuse water during water tightness testing on military equipment. Recycling equipment at the waste water treatment facility disinfects and stores water in a 5,600-gallon container, which is then used to wash down equipment and fill tanks. After introducing new processes, the pretreatment plant, located in the industrial operations facility, is able to reuse 96 percent of the plating water.
"We have future plans for the water recycling capability," said Wildoner. "There are different levels of reuse water -- higher quality, more possibilities." He mentioned being able to use the water to maintain lawns and things like that.
Low flow valves being installed on urinals in bathrooms throughout the installation will use 70 percent less water, according to Wildoner. Furthermore, he said, steam boilers account for about 15 percent of the total depot water usage, so some of them are being be replaced with natural gas. Plus, water cooled motors in the packaging, storage and containerization center will be switched to air cooled motors, he added.
"Team Tobyhanna has done well employing a number of tools and practices to reduce the amount of water consumed each year," Wildoner said. "With a little creativity and a lot of hard work we can do the impossible."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.
Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our Joint Warfighters.
About 3,200 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.