Twentynine Palms -- The Combat Center earned the Secretary of Defense’s Environmental Quality for a Non-Industrial Installation Award, presented by The Honorable Mr. Frank Kendall III, secretary of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics during a video teleconference, Sept. 9, 2016.
“We received the award for three key things we do here: water preservation, recycling efforts and hazardous waste efforts,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Pochop, director, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.
Due to the Combat Center’s harsh desert environment, water is important not only to Marines and sailors stationed aboard the base, but also to service members who come here for training. NREA and the Combat Center Water Conservation Task Force focus their efforts on the conservation and sustainability of water resources. One of the many results of their efforts includes the reduction of potable water use, which is at 69 gallons per person per day. By comparison, the state of California uses 181 gallon per person per day.
“We want to encourage Marines, sailors and their families to think about how they can save water throughout the day,” said Chris Elliott, water conservation manager, NREA. “We also take different steps in the training environment side, such as recycling water for washing equipment. It is important to educate families and Marines who are training on the importance of water conservation.”
The Combat Center’s reduction of waste generation and reutilization of waste also played a large role in the award.
According to the 2016 Secretary of Defense Environmental Narrative Environmental Quality-Non-Industrial prerequisite, the Combat Center’s Range Sustainment Branch contributed to the accomplishment of this award by recycling ammunition casings and cans, brass and other recoverable range material. In fiscal year 2014, RSB collected, inspected and dematerialized more than 5.6 million pounds of range residue and training-related ordnance debris. Of that, 5.5 million pounds were recycled, generating $1.2 million in revenue.
According to Pochop, The Combat Center’s Hazardous Waste Management Branch has different programs to help with cost avoidance and cost savings, eliminating funds allocated towards unnecessary resources while minimizing costs of necessary resources. These programs save money through methods such as filtering and recycling antifreeze as well as recharging and reusing tactical field batteries.
“The ultimate goal is to be good stewards of the environment,” Pochop said. “In order to train and have Marines ready to go forward and fight, we focus our efforts on preserving the installation and its resources.”