By Pfc. Samantha Schutz, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 13, 2008 - As the desert weather heats up, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers will need to keep drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration. The Camp Liberty Oasis International Waters water treatment facility has been working 24 hours a day since the summer of 2005 to provide a continuous flow of purified bottled water to the thirsty troops. The facility produces 420,000 bottles of water each day, said Bruce Everson, a native of Townsville, Queensland, Australia, general manager of Camp Liberty's site.
Before the liquid is allowed to leave the plant, it must pass through a rigorous process to ensure it meets federal and military standards.
"Our water is probably more processed than (brand-name bottled waters in the United States) because of the military's standard," Everson said.
The process of making water from Camp Liberty's Z Lake consists of many precise steps.
First, the water is pumped into a machine in the facility, where it is treated with chlorine to kill any living organisms. Then it undergoes reverse osmosis, a process that uses pressure to separate out impurities.
The water also passes through a carbon filter, which uses carbon particles with a positive charge to pull negatively charged, impure particles from the water, then through an ultraviolet light filter, which works to disable the reproductive processes of any remaining microscopic organisms.
Finally, the water is moved to a sterilized contact tank and infused with ozone, which removes anything that may have survived the previous filters and also removes any odors. The ozone dissipates into the water after two to four hours, leaving behind nothing but pure drinking water.
The water is tested every two hours throughout the process to keep its pH levels -- a measure of how acidic or alkaline a liquid is -- balanced, Everson said.
The 1-liter bottles used to contain the water also are made within the facility. Tiny beads of plastic resin are inserted into one of two special machines, where they are melted and blown into a bottle. Combined, the two machines have produced nearly 250 million bottles since the facility began production in May 2005, Everson said.
After the bottles are filled and sealed, a laser inscribes the water's date of production and the code for which water purification system produced it. The code on the bottle is a way for the company's quality assurance department to track complaints, although most people have only good things to say about the product, Everson said.
"Nothing gets released until it meets all the standards," he added. "Our water is quality; I have no worries about that."
Army Cpl. Luis Perez, a native of Bronx, N.Y., said the bottled water he drank during a previous deployment was stale-tasting. "(Oasis bottled water) is a lot better than it was before; it's new and fresh," he said.
Perez is an automated logistical specialist with 62nd Quartermaster Company, 68th Combat Service Support Battalion, which supports 4th Infantry Division and Multinational Division Baghdad. His job at the Oasis facility is to coordinate with military and civilian representatives to arrange for water to be transported wherever it's needed.
Currently, 181 customers have accounts with the facility. About 500 palettes of water leave the facility for destinations all across the division's area of operations, Perez said, adding that about half of the water stays around the Camp Victory complex.
If the unit doesn't have its own truck to transport the heavy palettes, the 68th CSB provides transportation. Trucks come in and out of the facility 24 hours a day to pick up fresh water for troops at Camp Taji, Camp Rustamiyah and other locations in the area, Perez said.
(Army Pfc. Samantha Schutz serves with the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)