LANDSTUHL, Germany – A team of scientists and engineers from Public Health Command Europe’s Environmental Health Services was able to participate in a professional excursion with host nation counterparts last week.
Since U.S. forces rely on host nation water sources, PHCE works closely with host nation providers and the military community to ensure that water sources meet U.S. and host nation standards.
PHCE 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.
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 toured drinking water and wastewater facilities in Landstuhl and Schopp.
The partnership between the two organizations was established ten years ago when the EHS began participating in DVGW events.
“I am very pleased that after the COVID-19 outbreak, we managed to continue the cooperation of previous years,” said Stefan Neuschwander, Director of the DVGW Regional Group Saarland. “Such civil-military cooperation promotes mutual understanding between armed forces and operators of critical infrastructure.”
According to Bettina Eckels, a local national environmental engineer at PHCE, the partnership events with the DVGW and host nation partners “provide EHS a unique opportunity to professionally interact and share knowledge and experiences.”
This visit enabled EHS to learn more about the German drinking water production and wastewater treatment techniques as well as surveillance monitoring and interpretation of results.
Frank Nesselberger, Deputy Director of the Technical Operations for the county of Landstuhl, briefed on potable water, wastewater, and heating gas services for the local area – including information for Landstuhl Medical Center and Ramstein Airbase.
“It was very interesting to introduce the technical processes in a waterworks and a sewage treatment plant to the representatives of the American armed forces, with whom we have had contacts for many years, as part of a field trip and thus deepen the exchange,” said Nesselberger.
The exchange is mutually welcomed by the host nation counterparts and EHS.
“These engagements strengthen the trustful cooperation and collaboration with the military and host nation that ensures the health of the service members and their beneficiaries, as well as the host nation.,” said Eckels.