8/22/2012 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — The 97th Civil Engineer Squadron is leading a raw-water irrigation project starting at the Windy Trails Golf Course. With a cost-conscious culture in mind, Altus AFB teamed up with the City of Altus to provide a non-potable irrigation water system for the base. “Right now we are watering the golf course with potable water,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Tesh, 97th CES water and fuel systems maintenance journeyman.
“Potable water is treated water—we spend more money for treated water.” The raw water irrigation project will save Altus AFB and the City of Altus a significant amount of money. “The savings in utility costs for Altus Air Force Base due to utilizing raw water versus treated water is estimated at $48,000 a year,” said Chuck Butchee, 97th CES chief of asset management flight. “The City of Altus will reduce its operational costs by approximately $12,000 a year by not having to treat the water diverted through this system.”
“This diversion eliminates the need to treat 48 million gallons a year, providing the City of Altus with additional capacity in their treatment system. This project also reduces consumption of natural resources by eliminating the waste created by treating the raw water, thereby reducing water usage by 12 million gallons a year,” Butchee said. A non-potable water transfer line ties the City of Altus to the Tom Steed Reservoir. “This transfer line provides the raw water that enters the City of Altus treatment system,” Butchee said.
“The City of Altus worked with the Mountain Park Conservancy District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to approve a tap on the raw water line that could be used to feed Altus Air Force Base.” The city installed 2,500 feet of water line and the tap. The 97th CES personnel installed 6,500 feet of water line, saving the Air Force more than $120,000 in contract cost. “With any kind of exterior plumbing you’ll run into some challenges,” Tesh said.
“One of the challenges we ran into was how hard the ground was and how dry it is right now. The ground moves a lot when it’s dry, so we did pressure tests on it and it was fine. Other than that, we didn’t have any huge challenges.” The 97th CES hopes to expand this project to other parts of the base that currently use potable water irrigation systems.
“As of right now the raw water irrigation system will run on the golf course, but there are plans to run it all the way down to Wings of Freedom Park, the traffic circle and the island near the main gate,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Richardson, 97th CES training manager. Tesh and his team finished installing pipes for the golf course Aug. 20, 2012. After pressure tests are run on the pipes, the golf course raw water irrigation system will be fully functional and ready for use.
By reducing utility cost, treatment cost and natural resource usage, this project is a win-win for both Altus Air Force Base and the City of Altus, Butchee said.