ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --
In recent years, the Department of the Air Force has been increasingly focused on the important role of water in the DAF’s ability to achieve the mission to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace. This new focus has been driven by a deeper understanding of DAF water rights, recent real-world instances of water impacting mission success, and growing water availability challenges that affect water quantity, quality, and access.
“National Water Quality month is an important reminder of how important clean, potable water is – not only for the health and safety of our Airmen, Guardians, and surrounding communities, but also for mission assurance,” explained Douglas Tucker, director of Installation Energy Policy and Programs for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure. “The DAF is committed to understanding mission water needs, reducing our water use where possible, and improving our infrastructure to minimize the threat of water contamination.”
The Department of the Air Force’s water resources management program engages in continuous policy enhancement, tool and guidance development, and comprehensive program updates to assess water vulnerabilities and prioritize investments that bolster resilience, water efficiency, and mission assurance. Between fiscal year 2007 and 2020, the DAF reduced potable water use by 31.5%.
Using tools like the Installation Water Dashboard, the DAF actively monitors existing infrastructure for any degradation. Aging infrastructure is more susceptible to water main breaks, fissures, and extreme weather events. These events not only threaten the discharge of pollutants from Air Force activities into the ground, but also increase the risk of ground contaminants seeping into compromised service lines and threatening mission impact.
The Installation Water Dashboard tracks infrastructure age and material across installations and helps to identify outdated infrastructure and material types that are more easily compromised. This information also helps installations prioritize investment areas to promote overall installation resilience and water quality.
The Dashboard also tracks water pressure, which is essential to maintaining water quality. Low-pressure in-service lines can be hazardous to public health as it causes water quality issues. Pipeline pressure is influenced by the integrity of the distribution system, the system age, pumps, and storage facilities within the network that generate pressure. The Dashboard tracks pressure components through pressure redundancy tracking, such as backup power, pumps, and storage.
Installations understand that their commitment to upholding water quality goes beyond tracking in the Installation Water Dashboard. The DAF is working to diligently address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and meet federal cleanup obligations across 13,000 environmental restoration sites and is committed to ensuring water quantity, quality, and access for its future force and communities.