By Compiled by Fort Sill Tribune staffDecember 13, 2018
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Dec. 13, 2018) -- The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) recognized Fort Sill/American Water Enterprises at the Dec. 5 Governor's Water Conference for a project allowing Fort Sill to reuse its treated wastewater.
Fort Sill/American Water Enterprises was a 2018 winner in the Public Water Supply category of the Water for 2060 Excellence Awards, designated by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Owen Mills, director of water planning for the OWRB, said Fort Sill demonstrated a great achievement in using innovative solutions, exceeding the criteria designated by the award category.
American Water Enterprises, which operates the post's water and wastewater treatment facilities, implemented the project to address problems suffered during Oklahoma's four-year drought from 2010-2014. The project is directly linked to the ability to provide water to the Fort Sill community.
When Fort Sill first announced the project in late 2015, it was the first entity in Oklahoma to win a Class 2 wastewater reuse permit.
That means it qualified for unrestricted irrigation of public places with wastewater effluent that had been treated to even higher standards than normal to allow its reuse.
Randy Butler, chief of the Directorate of Public Works, said 1.6 million gallons of water a day are released from the Fort Sill wastewater treatment plant into East Cache Creek. The project that won the award "recycles water we're able to put to a second use," he said.
The project meant installing additional infrastructure to transport wastewater, provide additional treatment, then transfer the water to other locations for non-potable uses. The treated wastewater is transported through purple pipelines to distinguish it from water suitable for drinking purposes (blue pipes) and sewer lines (green).
When the project debuted in late 2015, Ronnie Graves, general manager of the Fort Sill American Water Project, said the reclaimed water has the potential to reduce Fort Sill's water usage by as much as 37 million gallons a year.
Graves is now about to retire, so Andrew Bennett, chief of DPW's business operations division, was asked to comment on the award:
"It's a great honor to get it ... I think the way he described it back then is pretty much the way it went forward," he said. "It got submitted, went through all of the approval processes up at the state, and was selected as the finalist for that award."
One step in the process exposes the water to ultraviolet light in order to kill certain harmful pathogens like Giardia and Salmonella. When the water has been fully filtered and treated, a pump station stores it in a water tower of its own, and gravity flow is used to transport the treated water to the other parts of post where it will be used.
Since the treatment facilities are located on the east side of post, pipes had to be laid underneath I-44 to get water to the first reuse point, Lucas Polo Field. From there, the purple lines go to the Post Corral to water the pasture on which the Half Section's matched bay horses graze.
The line then continues to Snow Hall, where the nonpotable water goes into a cooling tower used in the evaporative process to cool the chiller for Snow Hall's heating and air conditioning system.
"It's already in use at Snow Hall," Bennett said of the treated effluent.
The purple line goes one stop farther, to the Post Cemetery, where the treated water is used to keep the burial sites green.
"That's as far west as it goes right now," said Bennett.
Butler said the ultimate goal is to get pipe laid all the way to the wash rack behind the motor pool area where 75th Field Artillery Brigade is.
"We've got some projects in the works. We're looking for funding to expand the system further," Bennett said.