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Feature Stories

NEWS | April 25, 2020

New treatment plant to save costs, help environment

By Story by Sgt. 1st Class Gary Witte 207th Regional Support Group

A new wastewater treatment plant that opened in April at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, is expected to bring long-term and wide-ranging benefits to the surrounding area.

U.S. Army officials said the facility, which cost $4 million to build, is designed to save money, increase security and help the environment. Soon after its start, the plant was already processing thousands of gallons every day.

Maj. Chad M. Vance, construction management operations officer in charge for the 206th Engineer Battalion, said the treatment plant is an upgrade from having to constantly ship wastewater off-base for disposal.

“It’s an improvement to basic life support,” he said. “It’s a win.”

The plant is essentially a condensed version of its civilian counterpart with a treatment pond to aerate the effluent and multiple metal containers functioning as bioreactors to clean it.

Lt. Col. Antionette Chase, the base deputy commander, estimated that by lessening the need for contracted wastewater trucks, the U.S. government will be saving $1.7 million every year. The change also allows officials to improve security at Al Asad while helping Iraqi civilians who live in nearby communities.

“We are now not a burden on the local municipal water treatment plant,” she said. “So now we’re self-sustaining.”

Her Army Reserve unit, the 207th Regional Support Group from Fort Jackson, S.C., runs the Base Operations Support Integrator which oversees the life support functions for Coalition Forces staying at Al Asad.

The 206th Engineer Battalion, a National Guard unit from Owensboro, Ky., recently cleared out the area’s drainage and sewer system in order to provide a safe discharge point for the treated water. This work will benefit the Iraqi side of the base, especially during severe weather.

“There were a lot of issues with flooding last year because the stormwater couldn’t drain,” Chase said.

Once the water travels through the drainage system, it will empty into an oasis within the border of the base and keep the natural feature wetter for longer.

“It will actually enhance that ecosystem,” she said.

Chase, whose background includes environmental engineering, called the project vital and praised the dedication of the KBR engineer on base who designed the plant.

“This is a big win,” she said.