Pacific Partnership Installs Water Catchment, Filtration Systems

Last Updated : 7/3/2013 10:28:23 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tim D. Godbee

PACIFIC OCEAN – Pacific Partnership 2013 engineers and civil affairs team members are installing and renovating critical rain water catchment and filtration systems in the host nations of Samoa, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Solomon Islands.

The catchment and filtration systems are used to supply rural island dwellers with consistently clean water and serve as a back-up system for urban areas in the event of a natural disaster.

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Benjamin Pong, a member of the Pacific Partnership 2013 civil affairs team, said that the catchment systems are effective in island environments because they make use of available rain water from the roofs of buildings in places where it can be difficult and expensive to access fresh water from elsewhere, but after the water is captured, it still needs further filtration.

“Debris will collect on the roof that can possibly contaminate any water collected from it, so you need to filter the water before it can be used for drinking or crops - that’s where the bio-sand filters come in,” said Pong. “They’re cheap units that are easy to maintain and use.”

The bio-sand filters work by running water through layers of sand that trap debris and shelter naturally occurring microorganisms that kill bacteria. After the water is run through the filter, it still needs to be decontaminated with small amounts of chlorine to kill any viruses and remaining bacteria that may be in the water.

After each installation, subject matter experts conduct hands-on training sessions for members of the local populous on how to use, and maintain, the catchment systems and filters.

“We did an over-all presentation on rain water catchment system, the need for a filter and how it worked. We also did break out sessions on training on how to assemble and maintain each of the systems,” said J. Scott Remer, an engineer with the nongovernmental organization University of California, San Diego. “Afterward, we discussed some of the nuances and difficulties that may occur in the future and how to fix them. We also gave presentations on frequent contaminants, their effects and how to remove them.”

Pacific Partnership’s next mission port, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is currently in a severe state of drought so, according to Pong, upon arrival, Pacific Partnership engineers are scheduled to survey possible sights to install catchment and filtration systems so the population will be able to store water during the rainy season to prepare for possible droughts.

Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.