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355th CES creates portable water system

A portable water system designed by Karl Blair, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron journeyman utility man, sits at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2015.  The system provides potable water during emergency water outages allowing mission-critical workplaces to continue without interruption.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

A portable water system designed by Karl Blair, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron journeyman utility man, sits at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2015. The system provides potable water during emergency water outages allowing mission-critical workplaces to continue without interruption. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Golubski, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron water fuels system maintenance craftsman, and Karl Blair, 355th CES journeyman utility man, connect a hose to a portable water system at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2015.  Blair designed and developed the system which allows the WFSM team to supply a building with a continuous, uninterrupted potable water supply during emergency water outages.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Golubski, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron water fuels system maintenance craftsman, and Karl Blair, 355th CES journeyman utility man, connect a hose to a portable water system at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2015. Blair designed and developed the system which allows the WFSM team to supply a building with a continuous, uninterrupted potable water supply during emergency water outages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Golubski, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron water fuels system maintenance craftsman, and Karl Blair, 355th CES journeyman utility man, connect a hose to a building’s water supply from a portable water system at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2015.  The system is a modified water buffalo designed to supply buildings with potable water during emergency water outages.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Golubski, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron water fuels system maintenance craftsman, and Karl Blair, 355th CES journeyman utility man, connect a hose to a building’s water supply from a portable water system at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2015. The system is a modified water buffalo designed to supply buildings with potable water during emergency water outages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 355th Civil Engineer Squadron's Water Fuels System Maintenance shop has developed an innovative portable water system for facilities that lose access to a potable water supply.

The system was designed and developed by Karl Blair, 355th CES journeyman utility man, when he noticed that the shop's water tank trailer was unusable.  Under his guidance, the WFSM team completed the build out of the system.

The portable water system is a modified water buffalo designed to supply buildings with potable water during emergency water outages.  It is equipped with a 525 gallon storage tank, variable frequency drive motor, water pump, low water level shut off, pressure control devices and adapters to connect to a buildings water service.  It also has the ability to run off commercial power or a generator.

With the system, the WSFM can isolate distribution lines and make repairs on water lines without interrupting service to facilities.  This is especially important with mission-critical workplaces.

"This system allows us to supply a building with a continuous, uninterrupted potable water supply," said Charles Griffiths, 355th CES chief of infrastructure. "On past water main repairs, we were forced to isolate buildings leaving them without water for the duration of the repairs.  Sometimes due to parts not being readily available, water can be down for days." 

Potable water is important for the health and safety for all D-M occupied facilities.

"Potable water is vital for facilities like the Child Development Centers, dining facility and the clinic where water is essential for sanitation or food prep," said Griffiths.  "It's also important to have for buildings with server rooms where climate control is crucial to protect the equipment within the mission-critical facility.  When we have to shut water off to these buildings, it takes a lot of coordination to schedule the water outage, supply the facility with porta potties, or rearrange shifts to accommodate that building's ops tempo."

The system's portability is a major advantage as it sits on a small trailer, allowing it to be towed and parked within close proximity to the facility in which it is needed.  The system can also be connected without extensive modifications to the facility's water supply line.

"To our knowledge, this is the first of its kind anywhere," said Griffiths.  "This system is unique because we have backup generators, HVAC systems and aircraft arresting systems but we have never had a backup water supply system."

The new system was completed on Nov. 20, 2014 and has been used every day since then.

The WFSM shop is in the process of building a second system and has also talked with other units about possible use for other applications.