Filtering for Success: Diego Garcia's One Island, One Team, One Mission Approach to Water Treatment

Story Number: NNS200110-02Release Date: 1/10/2020 2:30:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dartanon D. Delagarza, U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia Public Affairs

DIEGO GARCIA, British Indian Ocean Territory (NNS) -- Diego Garcia is temporary home for more than 3,000 U.S. and foreign military service members, civilians and contractors that live off the water produced by the Diego Garcia Water Treatment Plant onboard U.S. Navy Support Facility (NSF) Diego Garcia.

The water treatment plant produces between 750,000 and 800,000 gallons of potable water every day for the islands inhabitants. At max production, the plant has the capability to produce about 1.2 million gallons of water that is fit for human consumption (FFHC).

“The intent of this plant is to remove all the hydropneumatic systems and water dispensers so that the people can directly get their water from the plant,” said Herberd Abellada, assistant officer in charge of the water treatment plant.

The plant’s operations are managed by contractors under Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), while military and civilian experts supervise the plant’s water purity and environmental impact as well.

The plant extracts water from 118 water wells located in the jungle and air operations.

 “What we normally did before was just an aeration, sedimentation, and chlorination,” said Abellada. “So there’s a big difference between potable water and non-potable water systems.”

The plant was commissioned in December 2016 with the new addition of Nano filtration systems.

“Nano filtration is a technique that has prospered over the past few years,” explained Utilitesman 1st Class Kahmla Southaphanh. “Today, Nano filtration is mainly applied in drinking water purification process steps, such as water softening, decoloring and micro pollutant removal. During industrial processes, Nano filtration is applied for the removal of specific components, such as coloring agents.”

“Nano filtration is a pressure related process, during which separation takes place, based on molecule size,” Southaphanh continued. “Membranes bring about the separation filters down to .002 micron. The technique is mainly applied for the removal of organic substances, such as micro pollutants and multivalent ions. Nano filtration membranes have a moderate retention for univalent salts.  This is the last stage of filtration.”

After the last stage of filtration, a post treatment of Ultraviolent (UV) light and pH balance ensures the FFHC of the water. After post treatment, the water is safe for consumption straight from the tap.

“UV light is a proven and effective way to control pathogens without adding any chemicals to the water,” said Southaphanh. “It also offers other benefits such as destroying chloramines and controlling ozone off-gassing by turning it into hydroxyl radicals through advanced oxidation process.”

The water treatment plant supports the U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia mission by ensuring the health, safety and hydration of all island residents.

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