MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- The six elements include: management and tracking of water usage, reaching out to the community through education, improvement of water infrastructure, enforcing water usage regulations, reviewing and improving on maintenance procedures and the reviewing of technology that supports water conservation initiatives.
“We are in the desert and experiencing a drought that has no clear end in sight,” said Chris Elliott, water resources manager, NREA, native of Gainesville, Fla. “The only water available to continue the training mission here is ground water. Ground water is a non-replenishable resource; meaning we don’t receive enough rain to recharge those aquifers at the rate at which we are pulling water out of the ground.”
The installation is equipped with a waste water treatment facility which recycles all of the water from the installation’s sanitary sewer system. The recycled water amounts to approximately one million gallons of water per day. The waste water is then cleaned, treated and stored as non-potable water which is used to irrigate the Desert Winds Golf Course.
Through documentation of how much water is used, educating members of the community and implementing technology that supports conservation initiatives, the Combat Center is working diligently to preserve resources.
“I think it’s important to raise awareness and through that awareness people will then start to take action,” Elliott said. “The average person simply doesn’t think about water conservation on a daily basis, and we want to try to bring that forward through education and outreach.”
A key effort to reduce water usage is the limiting of watering lawns to pre-determined times of day and frequency. These times will be put in place to lessen the amount of water lost to evaporation. The information will be released when the WCP has been launched.
“Everyone aboard MCAGCC is required to adhere to the Commanding General’s policy,” Elliott said. “The WCP will ultimately be a part of the Combat Center Order 5090, which is an environmental protection order for the base.”
As a part of the WCP, the Combat Center continues to implement native landscaping throughout the installation. Grass is not native to the terrain and requires a greater amount of water to maintain. By landscaping the installation with native and drought resistant plants, rocks and artificial turf, the base is able to reduce the amount of water used for garden and lawn upkeep.
Even the way in which the new landscapes are maintained makes a difference. Through utilizing drip irrigation instead of sprinklers to water desert landscapes, the amount of water used will be greatly reduced. Drip irrigation feeds water directly to the roots of the plants, as opposed to spraying an excessive amount of water to soak an entire yard.
NREA believes every entity on base plays an essential role in the WCP. From each unit on base, to the families that live here, it is everyone’s responsibility to help conserve water.
“The number one mission of the installation and everyone aboard base is to train Marines,” Elliott said. “We have a ton of land and the perfect training environment, but if there’s no water here, we’re done. We have a responsibility as the federal government, Department of Defense and the Marine Corps to ensure that we sustain all of our available resources.”