PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (March 9, 2022) – U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey will save more than 2,000 gallons of potable water every day—more than 730,000 gallons a year—with a gray-water system that began operating in a Marine Corps barracks March 9.
Pyeatt Barracks, in Building 827, houses about 740 Marines. The system harvests water from showers and sinks, filters it and then uses it again in toilets, said Rich Thorne, energy manager, Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey. The system demonstrates the Army’s commitment to the environment and preserving resources.
“Being on Monterey Peninsula, water is precious, so this goes into the Army’s effort to help the community achieve that goal of trying to cut back and save water when possible,” Thorne said.
The system will also save money, Thorne said. With each gallon of water costing 3 cents, the system will save roughly $1,800 a month.
Erika Marx, an environmental protection specialist for USAG PoM, said the system is particularly relevant because California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide drought emergency in October 2021 that required local water agencies to implement water conservation measures.
In addition to saving water, with the offset in water usage the system provides, PoM can apply for water “credits” from the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, Marx said. The credits allow PoM to build new facilities and renovate older facilities to support the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center mission.
The gray-water system’s tanks are in a room on the backside of the building, and officials from the garrison, City of Monterey, County of Monterey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gathered Dec. 9, 2021, to receive training on how to maintain the system. The system began working March 9 after officials from the county Department of Health approved the filtered water’s quality. In this regard, the system also shows how PoM works with local governmental agencies.
Although the system only uses the water in toilets, it still must meet strict non-potable water quality standards because people could still come in contact with it, Thorne said.
“That’s why we have all the filtration and [ultraviolet cleaning devices], plus a chlorine injection as well to help chlorinate the water before it goes back up the pipes,” Thorne said.
For the first year, the company that created the system will maintain it, Thorne said. After that, City of Monterey personnel will likely maintain it.
Bob Tuscany, a senior crafts worker for the City of Monterey, attended the training and took extensive notes on how to maintain the system.
While most military installations bid out projects to local municipalities one at a time, PoM and the City of Monterey started working together under a pilot program in 1998 to save money and provide services under one contract. The partnership proved successful, and in 2013, federal legislation creating what are now known as Intergovernmental Support Agreements took effect so other military installations and municipalities could take advantage of similar arrangements.
The new gray-water system is part of a larger plan to save water on PoM. For example, the garrison is working on getting a similar system in Building 630 up and running, Thorne said.
Additionally, garrison officials have a plan for a base-wide system that would collect wastewater from around the base and use the processed water in newly built buildings, Thorne said. The system does not yet have an exact time frame.