January 11, 2017

Water supply: where’s it coming from?

by Senior Airman James Hensley
Luke AFB, Ariz.

Construction of a new pipeline connecting to an off base water supply is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. This will help supplement the on base water supply in emergency situations and for preventative maintenance requiring a water well to be shut down.

There are more than 3,000 military personnel and dependents living on  Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., who receive ground water pumped to the base water tower from a two-well system on base. Beginning this year, the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron will now receive supplemental water from Valley Utilities.

The connection the 56th CES is constructing will act as a second source during maintenance and down times, said Bob Worley, 56th CES installation management flight chief.

“During a typical year, we use approximately 400 to 450 million gallons of water across the base,” Worley said. “The first connection, behind the credit union by the base exchange, is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year. This connection is for the low water pressure side of base which is pretty much everything away from the flightline.”

A 220 foot pipe will connect the low pressure water supply to the Valley Utilities tanker located near the base.

The second connection, once approved, will most likely be contracted out due to the amount of work involved with running pipes along and under Super Sabre Road, Worley explained.

“We didn’t contract out the first connection work,” Worley said. “We did it in house with several units in the civil engineer squadron. It was a great opportunity for the young guys to learn and train on how to do this connection.”  

This kind of training is rare for Airmen in the 56th CES and is important in preparing them for different situations. One uncommon procedure involved using a “hot tap” to retrieve water.

“As part of this project, we conducted a hot tap into the water main,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Mayer, 56th CES commander. “Typically, when we connect to a water main, we have to isolate a section, which shuts down the water supply to any number of facilities. A hot tap allows us to connect to a pressurized line without shutting down supply.”

Once the connection is complete, the 56th CES can effectively shut down a well for maintenance without disrupting water services on base.

“Overall, this water connection project is vital to our overall water assurance plan for Luke,” Mayer said. “This will provide an important source of water, in case our wells go down for maintenance or other unforeseen issues.”

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