DoD, 102nd Quartermaster Co. keeps JBB hydrated
By 1st Lt. Lanea Sudweeks
102nd Quartermaster Company
13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Military and civilian personnel alike may be surprised to learn where much of their bottled drinking water actually comes from. If you are stationed at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, or are supplied with its bottled water, you may not know that the water in the large clear bottles you sip from all day comes from a canal fed by the Tigris River.
If you have seen the river, you may be reluctant to believe it could be safe enough to drink. However, state-of-the-art facilities located at JBB and around Iraq provide personnel working and living here with some of the purest and safest water in the entire region.
Soldiers with the 102nd Quartermaster Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) out of Fort Campbell. Ky., are working with Department of Defense contractors to assist in the process.
The Oasis water bottling plant at Joint Base Balad has been in service since November 2005 and supplies U.S. forces with purified bottled water, said Keith Brown, the site general manager contracted by the DoD and a Brisbane, Australia, native.
At its maximum capability, the plant can produce 24,300 cases of bottled water per day, he said.
It employs a variety of different water purification techniques to take canal water and turn it into pure drinking water. Some of these techniques, such as reverse osmosis, are common methods used with military water purification equipment and sometimes at home, said Staff Sgt. Gene Taylor, water operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge with the 10nd Quartermaster Co. and a Clarksville, Tenn., native.
“Policies and procedures of the company ensure that the best quality water is bottled for consumption. The company complies with the code of federal regulations … for bottled water by the United States Food and Drug Administration,” Brown said.
Brown’s other responsibilities include acting as a liaison between Oasis and the military, to include working with the 102nd Quartermaster Co., which is responsible for maintaining the equipment that keeps Oasis supplied with raw water.
Generally, Soldiers with the 102nd Quartermaster Co. perform routine work on the equipment, such as switching out the water pumps if they break down, and performing the weekly preventive maintenance checks and services on equipment. These two functions can have a significant impact on the production of water at the bottling plant. Occasionally, however, situations come up that require a different course of action, Taylor said.
Earlier this year, the water level was extremely low due to canal maintenance being performed farther up the canal. Sgt. Dustin Maxfield, a squad leader with the 102nd Quartermaster Co. and a Covington, Ind., native donned rubber coveralls and entered the canal to clean and readjust the strainer.
He and many other Soldiers of the 102nd Quartermaster Co. have been heavily involved in maintaining the equipment.
While Brown and others are Department of Defense contractors, most of the employees of Oasis come from a variety of countries, creating a diverse working environment.
“Training various nationalities gives a great deal of personal satisfaction,” he said. “Once you have earned the staff’s respect, they will go out of their way to please you.”
Spc. Samuel Carney, a water purification specialist with the 102nd Quartermaster Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) out of Fort Campbell. Ky., looks out over the canal near Joint Base Balad, Iraq while the water hose is being adjusted.
Sgt. Dustin Maxfield, squad leader with the 102nd Quartermaster Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) out of Fort Campbell. Ky., picks up the strainer in the canal by Joint Base Balad, Iraq during a period of low water levels.