December 1, 2017

Fort Irwin Earns Federal Award for Water Conservation

By Codi Kozacek
NTC / Fort Irwin PAO
Directorate of Public Works
The Fort Irwin water conservation team was awarded a Federal Energy and Water Management award Nov. 2 by the U.S. Department of Energy. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions” in the areas of energy efficiency, water conservation and the use of advanced and renewable energy technologies. Shown with awards, from left: Muhammad Bari, Director of Public Works; Sandra Key, Chief, Housing Division and RCI Project Manager; and Christopher Woodruff, Project Manager, Directorate of Public Works.

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Energy recognized Fort Irwin’s water conservation program as one of the top in the federal government Nov. 2 by presenting installation representatives with a Federal Energy and Water Management award.

The award highlights federal organizations and agencies for “outstanding contributions” to energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy. Fort Irwin was one of eight government organizations to receive the commendation for its entire program. The installation’s water conservation team – including Muhammad Bari, director of Public Works; Sandra Key, chief, Housing Division and RCI project manager; Col. Scott Taylor, former garrison commander; and Christopher Woodruff, project manager for the Directorate of Public Works – also earned the Secretary of the Army’s Energy and Water Management award in August.

“It’s a team effort for everybody. Conservation is everybody’s job,” said Bari. “It’s a commanders’ emphasis, soldiers’ effort, and all civilians. They’re all participating in this major conservation effort.”

Over the past 12 years, Fort Irwin reduced its annual water usage by approximately 40 percent, a savings of more than 400 million gallons. The installation cut water usage by 67.7 million gallons between Fiscal Year 2015 and Fiscal Year 2016 alone. Because Fort Irwin relies on an underground aquifer that is recharged by just 4 inches of rain per year, these achievements are critical to sustain the mission capability of the National Training Center, Bari said.

“We are a desert community. Water is a commodity here,” he said. “If we don’t conserve, we will not be able to continue the training here. So it is mission essential for us to do water conservation.”

“Our goal is to maximize conservation and have water available for the National Training Center to train here for the foreseeable future,” he added.

Fort Irwin’s approach to water conservation is multifaceted. The installation has aggressively sought to curb demand from domestic uses by installing low-flow toilets, showerheads and other fixtures throughout housing and work areas. It was also the first to implement a mock billing program in 2015 to encourage household conservation and to identify and fix leaks. The billing program went live this October.

The conservation program has also focused on expanding recycled water systems. For example, water managers updated the motor pool wash racks to recycle water in a closed loop. The racks are used to clean hundreds of military vehicles during the monthly training rotations at NTC, and the new system saves about 3 million gallons of water each rotation.

In addition, many of Fort Irwin’s grass lawns have been removed and replaced with rock and water-efficient landscaping. The green spaces that do remain are designed to be multi-use areas – for example, providing space for physical training as well as aesthetic value – and they use recycled water for irrigation.

On the supply side, Fort Irwin recently completed a new water treatment plant that is vastly more efficient than the old plant. Before, approximately half of the water was lost during the treatment process. Now, the plant is more than 99 percent efficient, meaning that it loses virtually no water.

All of these efforts are the result of teamwork and a long-term commitment by the Fort Irwin Garrison, according to the water conservation team, and they continue to work toward reducing water usage even further.

“We’re still going down, we’re still lowering our usage, and we’ve still got new projects,” said Woodruff. “Now they’re not getting cheaper, but we still have savings to be had on Fort Irwin.”

By earning recognition for water conservation at the highest levels and demonstrating a proven track record, Fort Irwin is also well positioned to receive funding for additional projects, Bari added. But the team stressed that they cannot achieve their goals without the continued support of the community.

“It’s their efforts that helped get us this award,” said Key.

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


Army photograph by Sean Kimmons

Army Combat Fitness Test set to become new PT test of record in late 2020

Army photograph by Sean Kimmons Pfc. Alex Colliver, foreground, pulls a 90-pound sled 50 meters that simulates the strength needed in pulling a battle buddy out of harm’s way during a pilot for the Army Combat Fitness Tes...

916th Support Brigade holds change of command at NTC

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — After serving two years as the 916th Support Brigade commander, Col. Sidney Melton relinquished command to Col. Kenneth Bradford at the National Training Center, June 20. Brig. Gen. Jeff Broadwater, comma...

Fort Irwin and 11th Armored Cavalry Museum closes

The Museum at Fort Irwin closed its doors on July 1, for extensive remodeling and conversion to a “Heritage Center.” The museum, built for Soldiers, by Soldiers, opened in the early days of the National Training Center. Soldier volunteers were allowed to remodel the former dining facility and convert the space into a museum, highlighting...