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Several 1.2 megawatt, photovoltaic arrays are located in several areas aboard the Combat Center. These solar panels collect energy which is stored in a battery storage system.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd

Combat Center PWD works toward water, energy conservation

4 Nov 2014 | Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

From solar panels to utilizing non-potable, recycled water, the Publics Works Division has done many things to increase the Combat Center’s water and energy efficiency. The PWD has been finding ways to use water as efficiently as possible and recycle the water used on base.

“Water conservation is an important topic,” said Gary Morrissett, utilities and energy management supervisor, PWD. “California is currently going through a drought.”

The water aboard the Combat Center comes from 11 wells located throughout the base. Albeit these wells only contain a certain amount of water, the PWD uses techniques and technology to make water use more efficient, and are developing new methods to recycle the water being used.

“The base is naturally fed off of wells,” Morrissett said. “This is a limited source of water for the base. We try to limit the amount of grass on base to the common areas like the fields, along with the service members being water wise … We end up saving 30 percent of the water on base.”

Water conserving fixtures have been put into the buildings. These items further help the Combat Center conserve water by using less water to complete the same tasks as the normal fixtures.

“We have installed low-flow toilets and faucets into the new buildings,” Morrissett said. “We have also tried to retrofit the old buildings to low-flow, so every building is saving water.”
In the next few years the division has plans to fix the water treatment system to stop the odor it gives off and increase efficiency.

“We have a re-design for the water treatment plan that will take place in the next few years,” Morrissett said. “The base is aware of the problem and is going to try an enclosed system to eliminate the odor and utilize more water.”

The Combat Center utilizes undrinkable water, during construction to save the water for places such as, housing and barracks, and plans to use non-potable water in other places on main side in the future.

“The construction sites around base use non-potable water,” Morrissett said. “In a few years we will be able to water most of main side with non-potable water.”

The PWD has not only been working on the water system, but is also finding ways to be more energy efficient.

“We have the largest micro-grid in the DOD,” Morrissett said. “We can generate two megawatts of power on base. In cases of power outages we can pick up the main side loads. We generate about 90 percent of our own electricity.”

We also save money through other power-friendly changes the PWD has put into place. The division has added automated systems to nearly all buildings to help reduce the amount of energy used on base.

“We replaced almost all the outside orange lights with white lights,” Morrissett said. “We save around $300,000 alone, just with those lights. These allow people to see better at night and use less energy than the old ones. We also gave most of the buildings automated heating and air systems and motion sensors for the lights. The Combat Center is able to do this through the two co-generation plants that generate power through solar panels located around the base.”

The co-generation plants receive a portion of their power from the solar panels located on different parts of the base.
“We have 44 different systems of [solar] panels, of different sizes, on different parts of the base,” Morrissett said. “We have over 25,000 panels overall at this point.”

The energy and water conservation plan not only saves the Combat Center’s resources, but also saves money.

“With all the different types of water and energy conservation the base saves about $10 million to $11 million per year,” Morrissett said.

The PWD is continuing to work on better ways to efficiently use and save water and energy on base. The projects they will be starting will make the Combat Center more eco-friendly.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms