FORT SILL, Okla.--Fort Sill will soon begin a program testing the use of recycled waste water to cool a water tower in the 434th Field Artillery Brigade area.

That means the Fort Sill Garrison should save between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, according to Randy Butler, Fort Sill Directorate of Public Works director.

"We want to see how efficient this is," he said. "This is proven technology, we're not trying a new way of doing things, just new to our installation."

Butler said the proximity of Building 5900 and the water tower to be cooled to the Waste Water Treatment plant is the reason that particular site was chosen to run the test.

"We wanted to do a small test before we started laying cooling pipes over long distances, only to learn that it wasn't efficient for us to do so," Butler said.

Waste water

Waste water is exactly what one might think it is. It's water that comes down the drains in restrooms, kitchen and any number of other outlets.

Chris Brown, Fort Sill energy manager, said the water used in cooling goes through all but the final step of purification.

"This water is about 95 percent pure," Brown said. "It does not go through the ultraviolet process to kill micro-organisms."

Butler said he understands that Fort Sill residents may wonder if the waste water, or effluent, as it's known, is mixing with the post drinking, potable, water and he assures everyone that it is not. The drinking water, water that comes out of a kitchen or bathroom faucet, is in a closed system, which keeps it from being contaminated from any outside source. The cooling water is in an open system.

"An open-air system will not be introduced into a closed water system," said Butler. "Clearly, we have looked at that and made sure the systems are apart so we don't introduce a potential health hazard."

For years, waste water has been used to treat areas like golf courses or other large areas where sunlight kills micro-organisms quickly. However, because of the distance from the treatment plant to the post's golf course, that process is not used on Fort Sill.

The savings

It will be a little while before the project gets off, or under, as the case may be, the ground. Brown said the project design is at about the 35 percent finished stage. Once the contractor, The Ross Group from Oklahoma City, finishes the design, Fort Sill's engineers will sign off on it when it meets the post's needs. Then, construction will begin on the $745,652 project.

The project is funded mainly through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as stimulus money.

"If you meet that standard, the project is worth investing in," Butler said. "We go through those calculations and try to find areas that we can do that will save the post money."

Typically, energy saving projects must show a 1.25 percent savings once the project is complete, Brown said.

Other green projects

Fort Sill worked on $33 million worth of green projects in Fiscal Year 10. Brown said they already have more than $5 million worth of green projects slated for FY11.

"It starts out looking like a gopher has taken over the area with all the holes," Butler said. "But, it was done at the New Post Chapel at Randolph Road and Fort Sill Boulevard and you can't even tell there are 200 wells in the grassy area long Randolph Road across from Honeycutt Fitness Center."

One of the largest ongoing projects on post is construction of geothermal heating and cooling for some buildings. Butler said the post has had "tremendous success" in the endeavor to use the earth's heating and cooling capability. There is a geothermal drilling project going on right now north of Prichard Field that will dig approximately 900 small wells roughly 200 feet down to heat and cool Buildings 1602 and 1603.

Butler said if the waste water cooling project proves a success, the post will look at expanding to other buildings near the treatment plant.