By Michelle ThumNovember 9, 2018
Public Health Command Europe is responsible for providing comprehensive non-clinical preventive medicine, public health and veterinary services in support of Europe Command garrisons and operational forces. A key component of this mission is ensuring the safety of drinking water, evaluating health risks and protecting environmental resources.
Since U.S. forces rely on host-nation water sources, PHCE's Environmental Health Services Division works closely with those host-nation providers and the military community to ensure that water sources meet U.S. and host-nation standards.
To meet mission requirements, PHCE is uniquely staffed with environmental science and engineering officers, preventive medicine specialists, laboratory chemists, licensed professional engineers and a geologist.
Currently, EHS is responsible for the water quality monitoring of approximately fifty-five drinking water systems. This support includes sampling, sanitary surveys, as well as laboratory analysis.
EHS staff recently met with the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water, or DVGW, and visited a waste water treatment plant in Saarbrucken, Saarland.
The partnership between the two organizations was established five years ago when the Environmental Health Services Division began participating in DVGW events.
On their most recent visit, the EHS staff visited the Saarbrucken waste water treatment plant. The plant provides drinking water and recycles waste water for the state of Saarland, Germany. This visit provided an opportunity for them to learn more about the German methods of cleaning waste water and generating water samples as well as how they analyze and interpret their findings.
"Visiting with local German public water utilities also allows PHCE the opportunity to share knowledge on environmental sampling, water treatment methodologies and environmental stewardship," said Maj. Jason Baumgartner, Deputy of Environmental Health Services for PHCE. "The Army is concerned about everyone's health and the environment in which we all share. The more PHCE works in coordination and understanding with our host nation water providers the better we can safeguard mission readiness."
Not only is the partnership beneficial to PHCE, it is also beneficial to DVGW.
According to Stefan Neuschwander, DVGW director, German and American regulations and guidelines regarding waste water treatment are very different.
"Therefore it is a great chance to exchange knowledge during joint work outings and to get to know the other side of things," Neuschwander said. "I appreciate the trustworthy and open exchange of expertise."