McConnell Resolves Boil Water Advisory

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam Goodly
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

McConnell Air Force Base has successfully resolved a recent water pressure issue that prompted a precautionary boil water advisory from August 14-17.

The system-wide pressure drop from a malfunctioning pressure sensor initiated the advisory. However, base officials assured the public that there was no water quality problem. The incident affected military personnel and civilians working on the base, residents living on the base, and Wineteer Elementary.

"According to state and federal drinking water standards, when water system pressure drops below 20psi, a boil water advisory must be established due to the potential for contaminants to be introduced into the system," said Master Sgt. Mark Olsen, 22nd Operational Medical Readiness Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight chief.

The City of Wichita supplies water to McConnell and distributes it through a complex system. The water tower, underground storage tank, and pumps are crucial in delivering water to base residents.

The issue began when a failed pressure sensor did not trigger the Wichita water supply valve to fill the underground storage tank. This caused the tank to deplete, leading to a loss of pressure in the system, and resulted in the advisory. Civil Engineer Emergency Stand-by personnel identified the problem, manually opened the Wichita supply line, primed the pumps, and refilled the tank, restoring base water pressure.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment required a boil water advisory and subsequent water quality monitoring to ensure water safety. Bioenvironmental Engineering initiated a comprehensive water quality testing program to ensure the water met safety standards. Initial samples were collected on August 14, followed by a more extensive sampling scheme across all zones within the distribution system. Results from a third-party lab were required for compliance purposes and took some time to process.

"We want to make it clear that the advisory was precautionary, not due to a water quality problem," explained Shannon Gilchrist, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight deputy. "When system pressure is lost, extensive sampling across all zones within the distribution system is necessary to confirm no infiltration or contamination occurred. We have fixed the problem in the plant, and added alarm notification capability to ensure this will not be a reoccurring issue in the future."

McConnell AFB remains dedicated to providing safe, high-quality drinking water to its residents. McConnell promptly addressed the incident and is taking measures to prevent a recurrence in the future.