Photo Information

Water purification specialists with Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), test their filtered water’s purity at Fort Pickett, Va., Sept. 10, 2012. The Marines are testing the battalions new lightweight water purification system capable of producing up to 450 gallons of clean water per hour from any available water source. This field testing is part of the 26th MEU's pre-deployment training program. CLB-26 is one of the three reinforcements of 26th MEU, which is slated to deploy in 2013.

Photo by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels

Water purification specialists field new lightweight system at Fort Pickett

10 Sep 2012 | Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is fielding their new lightweight water purification system at Fort Pickett, Va., in September.

Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Collins, Largo, Fla., native and CLB-26 utilities chief said, according to the Naval Preventative Medical Manual, a Marine or sailor requires 20 gallons of water a day to sustain military operations.

The number for the water required is factored from everything including showers, laundry, drinking water and the water used to prepare food for chow said Lance Cpl. Logan B. Vasquenz, Bloomington, Ill., native and CLB-26 water purification specialist.

“Our old system, the (Tactical Water Purification System), is rated to filter 1,500 gallons per hour when it is used with fresh water,” said Collins. “We can set the whole system up and filter 6,000 gallons of water in four to six hours. It can run 18-20 hours per day on 20 gallons of gas and single handedly provide enough clean water for the entire (26th Marine Expeditionary Unit).”

With space being a critical asset in operations, size is a large factor when determining the viability of any type of cargo.

Vasquenz said, CLB-26 is testing and using the new LWPS because it is highly mobile.

“The new system is on a smaller scale, based off the numbers from the TWPS. It can roughly sustain and maintain a company-sized level with clean water,” said Collins. “Some of the advantages of the new system are it is self-sustained and fits inside a Quadcon, capable of being moved around on the back of a truck and fitting into smaller areas vice the TWPS which weighs more than 10,000 pounds and is hard to get into tight areas.”

A Quadcon is a stackable military shipping container that can hold more than 200 cubic feet and hold more than four tons.

Although both water systems have distinct advantages, CLB-26 is pushing to completely transition into the LWPS. It only takes two Marines to set up the system and only one Marine to properly operate it.

Capable of properly filtering water in almost all conditions, including freezing temperatures, Collins said, the water purification specialists of CLB-26 are capable of filtering chemical, biological and nerve agents from any water source.

He said the process starts by the system pulling the water in from any fresh, salt or brackish water source into the raw water system where it is then discharged into a micro-filtration feed tank. After going through 12 micro-filters it becomes feed water, then put into the reverse osmosis feed tank creating RO feed water. Next, the water is pushed through two high-pressure pumps, and then through a turbo charger ending up in the RO elements where calcium hyper chloride is added creating clean, purified water. The water is kept in 3,000-gallon storage tanks ready to be picked up and distributed among troops.

“If you don’t have water on deck in any kind of mission in the Marine Corps, you are not going to survive,” said Collins. “Marines will start dying within a couple days of not having portable water to consume and won’t be able to carry on the fight or continue the mission.”