MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center’s Waste Water Treatment Plant, better known as “Lake Bandini,” has been a valuable water resource for the installation for decades.
While the plant’s presence on the base is well-known, the inner-workings of how it treats the water is not.
The 60-year-old “lake” takes waste water from the base and treats it until it meets the standards necessary to use that water for irrigation. The plant got its Bandini nickname from a local fertilizer company, Bandini Fertilizer.
“While the water that is pumped out can be used for irrigation, per the regulations it can’t come in to contact with people,” said the installation Water Resources Manager, Chris Elliott. “For example, if the golf course is watering the grass, they will water the back nine holes while the front nine are being played, and vice versa.”
The waste water is pumped in to the treatment facility, and all the non-organic materials, such as things that aren’t meant to be flushed, are filtered through something like a giant mesh screen. All of this debris is then collected, compacted and thrown away. The remaining water then goes in to a fermentation pit that is about 18 feet deep.
“The depth allows any remaining solid material to drop out and the rest of the water then travels through the system to the wet land ponds,” said Elliott.
The wet land ponds use plants to naturally clean the water. Once done there, the water then gets processed with a flocculent.
“The flocculent is a chemical that takes small particles in the water and attracts them to each other,” said Elliott. “When they are brought together, it allows them to sink to the bottom of the tank.”
After that a disinfectant is added and the water is ready to be sent out to the Desert Winds golf course and some of the tree line areas on main side.
This water source never intermingl0es with the base’s drinking water sources.
“We get all of our potable water from a deep wells located away from the Mainside area,” he added. “That water is practically able to be consumed right out of the ground due to its high quality, but it won’t last forever. It would be more difficult for us to preserve our potable water source if we didn’t have the waste water treatment plant.”
“The idea is, we want to use our potable water for consumption and use our non-potable water and recycled water for other things such as irrigation and wash racks,” Elliott said. “This will assist us in meeting water reduction goals and requirements.”
People need to understand we live in the desert and we have to do what is necessary in order to sustain the troops out here, he added. Our drinking water comes from other resources, and Bandini helps keep those resources intact for as long as possible.
“The facility saves the Combat Center 86 million gallons of water taking waste water from main side and Camp Wilson and treating it until it is safe to use for irrigation,” said Elliott. “That would be 86 million gallons of drinking water if this facility wasn’t here. Not only is that great for the Combat Center and the Marine Corps, but most importantly it is beneficial to planet Earth.”