By Army Pvt. Jared N. Gehmann
Special to American Forces Press Service
Sept. 8, 2009 - U.S. soldiers at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq, put their time and energy into providing a better quality of life for the residents of Iraq's Madain region by learning how to set up and operate a solar-powered water filtration system Sept 5. Multinational Division Baghdad paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team implemented a self-powered, energy-efficient water filtration system to provide the area's residents clean, adequate drinking water.
But for this system to be effective, regional leaders need to be shown how it works, and that's where Army Spc. Rachael Potts, a water treatment specialist assigned to Company A, 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, put her knowledge to work.
"I got involved with this filtration system a few days ago while working on a reverse osmosis system," Potts said. "But once I heard about this system, I wanted to see what it could do in order to help our Iraqi partners."
The solar-powered system uses a series of hoses and filters to purify water in areas where clean water is limited. The Madain region, on the outskirts of eastern Baghdad, is a vast, mostly desolate area were most water sources consist of dirty, mineral-filled wells.
The system can treat about 6,000 gallons of water a day. Despite its size, the system also is transportable and can provide clean drinking water to even the most remote villages in the region.
"So far, we have 25 of these systems to place all over the Madain region in areas such as the towns of Narwan and Salman Pak," Potts said.
Potts worked with Abbas Hassan, the chief engineer of Nahywan water treatment facility, to demonstrate to Hassan's fellow engineers how the system functions.
"The water filtration system is impressive, because it solves both of the main problems we have right now, which is having access to clean water while also having a reliable power source to make the machine work and clean the water," Hassan said.
Several combat medics assigned to the battalion's Company C came out for the demonstration to receive hands-on experience with the system and witness the results of the water-cleaning process. To ensure the water was drinkable, the medics performed a series of quality-assurance tests.
"It was amazing how much cleaner this water was after it ran through the machine," said Army Spc. Wayne Terry. "Clean water is a necessity for good health; bad water can be a leading cause of many health problems."
U.S. and Iraqi leaders discussed their hopes of putting the system to use in areas across the region in the near future. The system also is seen as a step in the right direction for the nation.
"We appreciate all the help the U.S. Army has given us in making our country a better place," Hassan said. "As long as we keep pushing technology such as this solar- powered filtration system, I believe we will continue to accomplish our goals in rebuilding Iraq."
(Army Pvt. Jared N. Gehmann serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)