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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Daniel Urrutia, chief water plant operator for The Combat Center’s water treatment facility, explains the pump process of water treatment at the water treatment facility, Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Oct. 17, 2023. The facility represents a substantial investment in ensuring both long term water quality and security for The Combat Center. The mission of the water treatment facility is to provide The Combat Center with safe and reliable drinking water to all service members, Department of Defense civilians, and their families. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Justin J. Marty)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Justin J. Marty

Combat Center personnel ensure safety of water through water treatment facility

9 Nov 2023 | LCpl Iris Gantt Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

The water from the treatment facility is initially pumped from either the Deadman Aquifer or Surprise Springs Aquifer, located outside of Camp Wilson within a protected area where live-fire training is prohibited, according to Daniel Urrutia, chief plant operator at the water treatment facility. Once the water reaches the facility, it is prefiltered where the larger sediments are filtered out and then sent through the reverse osmosis and closed-circuit desalination systems.

This reverse osmosis process removes contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and volatile organic compounds. Additionally, the facility uses desalination, which is a process that removes dissolved minerals.

“Through our protected aquifers and reverse osmosis system, every drop of consumable water this installation produces meets the highest quality standards,” said Lt. Col. Jason Hvizdak, assistant chief of staff, Installation Support Directorate, MCAGCC.

Urrutia goes on to explain the facility conducts hourly tests and "grab samples" on the water throughout the treatment process. The water must be at a certain pH level, which is the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the water, as well as a certain conductivity level, depending on which stage of the process they are testing. The facility also conducts a finished water analysis to measure the content of fluoride, boron, calcium carbonate, and chlorine residual to further their confidence in providing clean water.

Sampling and analysis are repeatedly conducted at various intervals in the treatment process, according to Urrutia. The operators perform testing at each step of the treatment process to ensure water quality standards are met. In addition to the process samples performed by the operators, regulatory sampling is performed by a California certified laboratory with results and written report sent to the state each month.

"This is a 365-day, 24-hour operation," Urrutia explains. "Any day of the year, there are minimum of two operators here, and the sampling and daily rounds go on throughout those shifts."

If there is an issue with the water treatment process, the facility has multiple procedures in place to maintain the water quality of the base. One of these procedures includes implementing backup systems in the facility.

"Throughout the facility, we have redundancies; if a dosing pump line fails or leaks, the pump is shut down, and the redundant pump is brought up," said Urrutia. "That way, the water quality never suffers."

The facility's water treatment process contains multiple steps to achieve safe and regulatory compliant drinking water. Each step of the treatment process is performed by a California licensed water treatment operator ensuring quality water is always maintained.

The operators understand the water quality is important to everyone, as it affects every aspect of life on base. Access to potable water not only enhances readiness but also bolsters our capacity to maintain rigorous training standards.

"Water is our most precious resource. It is vital to our survival. The cleanliness and quality of our water directly contributes to our health, welfare, and our ability to train elite warriors," said Hvizdak. "I want the tenants and visitors of this installation to know that the water provided on this installation is clean, safe, and meticulously processed to ensure we are providing the very best for our service members and their families.”

Each year, The Combat Center publishes the Annual Consumer Confidence Report. This extensive report provides all water quality data on samples tested throughout the year. Additional water quality information can be found at:
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms