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Drinking Water Quality on JBER

By Doyon Utilities | and 673d Bioenvironmental Engineering Squadron | June 3, 2016

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — JBER's drinking water mission
A water utility seldom takes the opportunity to tell its customers about all they are doing to produce exceptional quality drinking water in conjunction with the myriad of additional things the utility does to ensure public safety. All too often, we concentrate only on our mission of producing water that goes through a rigorous testing and quality control process before being introduced into a water distribution system for customers. Beyond that, we don't broadcast what we are doing. In essence, we fail to "toot our own horn."

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation have given us an opportunity to tell the rest of our story in the form of this annual Consumer Confidence Report. Doyon Utilities and 673d Bioenvironmental Engineering are pleased to jointly prepare this comprehensive report for our customers who work and reside on JBER. Our goals and efforts have been closely coordinated with the environmental staff from both JBER and DU to provide you with a complete picture of the water quality program. As you will clearly see from the report, the water you consume is of exceptional quality and exceeds the standards established by the U.S .Environmental Protection Agency.

Who are we?
While there are two public water systems on JBER, the two systems are connected and operate as a continuous system from the water plant to the consumer. The commonality of the two systems allows us to efficiently operate as a team in order to serve our most deserving customers; the military personnel and civilian employees assigned to the joint installation. This report will provide many technical aspects of our water quality but just as importantly, it will allow us an opportunity to let you know some of the work going on behind the scenes.

Doyon Utilities owns and operates utilities located on the Richardson side of JBER. This relationship was initially established through a Utility Privatization Contract with the Army at the former Fort Richardson and later expanded due to joint basing. As the water purveyor on the Richardson side, Doyon manages the water plant and distribution lines, while conducting a myriad of bacteriological and chemical tests to ensure all quality standards are met.

Once the water reaches the Elmendorf side, the 673d Civil Engineer Group  and 673d Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering flight take over. CEG provides distribution system oversight, while Bioenvironmental Engineering monitors water quality. This includes additional testing of the system for bacteriological contamination, with each major loop or population area sampled at least once a month. Additionally, several select chemical contaminants are re-sampled to verify results seen on JBER, as required by the state of Alaska. The results of Bioenvironmental Engineering's samples, in conjunction with those obtained by Doyon Utilities, are used to ensure basewide water quality.

In order to ensure long term reliability of the water source, we have conducted assessment studies to determine areas where we need to focus our resources. Our water treatment plant received continuous oversight of the drinking water it produces. The quality of water you drink is superb and our standards will not be compromised. Testing results from 2015 are included in this report and from the data, you can be confident that the dedicated staff of highly qualified and state-certified professional water treatment operators will protect the integrity and quality of your drinking water. After all, our reputation is only as good as the quality of water we produce and we value that reputation.

We are proud to be partners in preparation and publication of this annual Consumer Confidence Report and welcome any suggestions on how to make it more informative in the future. As a side note, we encourage you to use the water you need but don't needlessly use water. Conservation of any resource is important and we ask you to do your part in this effort.

Where does our water come from?
JBER's drinking water is obtained from surface-water drainage and three local wells on JBER. Large debris is removed from the raw surface-water prior to it entering the treatment plant where it is undergoes several conventional water treatment processes. The plant is designed to produce approximately 7 million gallons of water a day - enough to fill more than eight Olympic competition-size pools. All our treatment processes are controlled and monitored by an interconnected set of computers. Because groundwater is a very high quality source of raw water, the only treatment necessary is disinfection. Each well is equipped with its own in-line chlorination equipment to ensure that water enters the distribution system free from any microbial contamination. The finished water is tested several times a day to ensure that pH, chlorine residuals, and fluoride are at appropriate levels.

Water Testing and Your Health
The sources of drinking water (both tap and bottled) include rivers, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or underground, it can dissolve naturally occurring minerals. In some cases, water can pick up radioactive material, or substances resulting from the presence of animals or human activity. Although our water supply may contain some of these contaminants, it is important to know that these substances are either removed completely or reduced to a safe level before it arrives at your tap.

Contaminants that may be present in source water include:
· Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment facilities, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife.

· Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which may naturally occur or result from urban storm water runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharge, oil and gas production or farming.

· Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban storm water runoff, and residential uses.

· Organic contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic compounds, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and may also come from gas stations, urban storm water runoff and septic systems.

· Radioactive contaminants, which may occur naturally or result from oil and gas production and mining activities.

In order to ensure tap water is safe to drink, the EPA prescribes regulations, which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. Food and Drug Administration regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water, which must provide the same protection for public health. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.

Some people in the general population may be more vulnerable than others to contaminants in drinking water. Immuno-compromised persons such as those with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, persons with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly and infants can be particularly at risk of infection. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC published guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline.

We're happy to answer any other questions about our water quality. For general information or for water quality questions call Doyon Utilities site management office at 338-3600 or JBER Bioenvironmental Engineering at 552-3985.

Water Quality Data for community water systems throughout the United States is available at www.waterdata.com.

Source Water Assessment
For the last several years, the ADEC has been working on assessments of the vulnerability of the water sources that provide water to all of the public water systems in Alaska. The source water assessment for JBER's Water Treatment Plant has been completed and is available for review by contacting JBER Bioenvironmental Engineering at 552-3985 or 455-1540.

Hydrant Maintenance
Hydrant maintenance is a top priority for our utility. Twice a year, April and September, we visit each hydrant in our system. We test the water flow at each hydrant and make sure each one is working properly. This is our way to provide superior fire protection to ensure the safety and well being of our consumers.

Lead/Copper in Drinking Water
The EPA Safe Drinking Water Act requires public water systems to test water samples from its customers to determine lead and copper levels. If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially in pregnant women and young children.
Lead and copper samples were collected at numerous locations on JBER-R during June 2015, and at JBER-E during September and October 2013. During both sampling events the 90th percentiles were below the EPA Action Levels.

Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. There is nothing in the treatment process that would introduce lead into the water; therefore, the water is tested at the individual service locations. If abnormal levels of lead or copper are detected in the water supply, residents will be notified and JBER will initiate action to correct the problem.

One method to minimize the risk of lead or copper contamination is to let the tap water run for 30 seconds to two minutes to flush any water that has been sitting for several hours.
It is important to use this approach for drinking water or cooking water. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Drinking water test results
Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the EPA's Safe Drinking Water hotline at (800) 426-4791.

The table lists the regulated contaminants required to be monitored by the EPA that were detected in your water. While most monitoring is required annually, some contaminants are sampled less frequently. The Stage 2 Disinfection By-Product Rule requires testing for trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids at locations in the distribution that produce the highest concentration of these two categories of compounds.

This sampling was done quarterly in 2014. All the substances we found were present in quantities less than the EPA's limits for safe drinking water.

If you would like to view a complete listing of test results, please call JBER Bioenvironmental Engineering at 552-3985, or call 455-1540.