By Paul Lara, Belvoir EagleNovember 1, 2019
Fort Belvoir Directorate of Public Works and its privatized utility partner, American Water, received a Federal Energy and Water Management Award for water conservation Tuesday, at a ceremony hosted by Department of Energy in Washington, D.C.
This decrease was the result of three different programs: no-discharge hydrant flushing; hand-held water quality analyzers; and using smart water meters.
Belvoir gets its water supply from Fairfax County, which delivers water disinfected with chloramines, which is chlorine and ammonia mixed together. The ammonia binds to the chlorine, and keeps disinfecting for a longer period of time, according to Jason Nash, general manager of American Water.
Using a portable water quality analyzer, Nash said American Water can check for conditions that precede increasing biological growth in the lines. When small changes indicate water is beginning to change, it can be managed by flushing smaller amounts of water.
Fred Carter, Fort Belvoir's Director of Public Works, said scrubbing the water mains of growth is now managed with a new system: Neutral Output - Discharge Elimination System, or NO-DES. Belvoir was the first to use this cutting-edge technique in Virginia.
"Instead of typical flushing, where you see someone open a fire hydrant for 30 minutes to purge biological buildup in the lines until it's nice and clear, and then shut it back off and go to the next one, the NO-DES truck sets up hoses between two hydrants, with filters on the truck, so you're not discharging anything. It flushes the lines without having to dump millions and millions of gallons of water on the street every year," said Carter.
One of the most immediate benefits was when American Water installed smart water meters, which can monitor water usage in 15-minute intervals, and send the data by cellular networks. After the first meter was installed, Carter said employees were startled.
"We noticed there was a building that was using an exorbitant amount of water in the middle of the night, when the building wasn't in use. The constant flow alerted DPW to a broken pipe that had been leaking water under the foundation.
Nash said more than 20 existing meters have been retrofitted with smart meters, and, instead of estimating water usage based on building size, DPW can now accurately track and bill how many gallons of water each installation partner uses.
DPW Deputy Director Chris Landgraf said these measures have put Belvoir well ahead of the Army's targets.
"We are seven years ahead of the curve for meeting the Army's directive for reducing water consumption," said Landgraf. "They continue to do things to minimize discharges, we're not discharging chlorinated water straight onto the ground, and we're re-capturing the material.