PRICE BARRACKS, Belize - Alabama Army National Guard Soldiers have been purifying and delivering potable water to service members participating in Operation Tradewinds 2022 in Belize in May.
Sgt. 1st Class Veronica O’Neal and 16 other Soldiers from the 1208th Quartermaster Company used the tactical water purification system (TWPS) to deliver over 17,000 gallons of water in the first eight days to U.S. service members and partner nations across many training sites.
Once purified and tested, the Soldiers fill a 2,000-gallon load handling system compatible water tank rack (HIPPO) for delivery. The potable water is used for cooking, drinking and personal hygiene, especially at one of the more remote locations in the exercise.
“This equipment, we have had it for years but never took it out of the state of Alabama or on annual training,” said O’Neal. “This is the first time our unit has done a mission with this particular equipment.”
The Alabama Soldiers usually deploy a reverse osmosis water purification unit (ROWPU) system. The ROWPU can purify 3,000 gallons, while the TWPS can purify 1,500.
The TWPS cleans water using several stages of purification; the first involves letting the drawn water sit in a large bag until sediments settle.
“We then pull water from the source and the water goes through screens and filters,” said Sgt. Shawn Phillips, a quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer for the 1208th. “Next, it goes into reverse osmosis, and then we add chlorine and other chemicals in order to get it ready to drink.”
The HIPPO must be filled to near capacity to safely transport the water to prevent the load shifting while traveling.
“Anyone that has delivered high loads of liquids knows these types of trucks cannot stop on a dime,” said O’Neal.
Members of the 1208th planned to deliver one HIPPO a day, but they found the need was for double that. They also discovered one of the four tanks they brought to Belize was damaged during transport to the country.
“Coming here, getting the equipment here, seeing the equipment do what it was made to do, and seeing the Soldiers get to do their job has been a great accomplishment for this unit,” said O’Neal. “It was tough getting here, to get the equipment set up and ready to work. But to actually see my Soldiers doing what they are trained to do and being very productive at it, it’s great to see.”