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McConnell Airmen work to ensure base’s water quality

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, performs water-quality tests on water taken from several base buildings March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. WFSM tests chlorine, fluoride and pH levels daily to ensure the base populace receives quality water. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, performs water-quality tests on water taken from several base buildings March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. WFSM tests chlorine, fluoride and pH levels daily to ensure the base populace receives quality water. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, pours water into a small vial in order to test the chlorine, fluoride and pH levels March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. If the samplings yield low readings, which sometimes happens in low-use buildings, the normal procedure is to flush the building until desired results are achieved. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, pours water into a small vial in order to test the chlorine, fluoride and pH levels March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. If the samplings yield low readings, which sometimes happens in low-use buildings, the normal procedure is to flush the building until desired results are achieved. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, performs water-quality tests on water taken from several base buildings March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. In addition to WFSM’s daily tests, the 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering flight performs more in-depth tests on a weekly basis. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, performs water-quality tests on water taken from several base buildings March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. In addition to WFSM’s daily tests, the 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering flight performs more in-depth tests on a weekly basis. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, uses an analyzer to test water samples March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. McConnell sampling results are consistently within state-required ranges. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Staff Sgt. Shane Pentheny, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance technician, uses an analyzer to test water samples March 9, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. McConnell sampling results are consistently within state-required ranges. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The base water supply is something that most people don’t consider on a daily basis, but for some Airmen, their everyday operations revolve around it− specifically those in 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels Systems Maintenance and some in the 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering flight.

When it comes to the water on base, WFSM Airmen have a lot on their plate, including performing interior plumbing service calls; maintaining underground water mains, swimming pools, fire hydrants and the sewage system; and performing daily water quality tests.

“We do water quality checks 365 days a year,” said Justin Strobel, 22nd CES WFSM foreman. “We check the chlorine, the fluoride and the pH levels. Those are reported monthly to the state and to bioenvironmental.”

In order to run an effective system, WFSM and BE must work hand-in-hand. In addition to the tests performed by WFSM, BE also performs their own tests on the water. On a weekly basis, they check for bacteria, lead, copper and disinfection byproduct as well as test chlorine, pH and fluoride levels.

“We work together by reporting our findings and making recommendations for [WFSM] to service our water system,” said Senior Airman Natasha Jeter, 22nd AMDS BE technician.

All of McConnell’s water comes from off base and is treated by WFMS before it is delivered to the user.

“We’re a booster plant, not a water plant,” said Strobel. “We get water directly from Wichita and then we add chemicals as needed to meet Air Force regulations on the installation.”

If the samplings yield low readings, which sometimes happens in low-use buildings, the normal procedure is to flush the building until desired results are achieved, said Strobel.

“The same thing will happen in your house if you go on vacation,” he said. “If you were to come home and test your water after being gone for two weeks, you’re probably going to have low chlorine in your house. Once you start running some water, you bring in the fresh water from the city.”

Although there are occasionally minor issues with the water, the two flights continuously work to keep the levels where they need to be and ensure that the base populace receives the best quality water possible.

“We report our sampling results [to the state] each month, and every year we distribute a Consumer Confidence Report that summarizes all of the year’s sampling into one document,” Jeter said. “McConnell sampling results are consistently within state-required ranges.”