Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2008 - U.S. troops here are helping provide clean drinking to local communities hurt by flooding caused by a tropical storm that brought more than a week of rain.
The flooding from the tropical storm had a devastating impact on the community. Not only were homes ruined, but their well water supply was affected from the flood waters making the water undrinkable, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shane Bolles, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, to serve as part of Joint Task Force Bravo.
Servicemembers assigned to the task force are currently involved in a 10-day water filtration project in a community near La Paz. The project is scheduled to end Nov. 5. In just a few days time, the team has been able to transform more than 2,500 gallons of undrinkable water into clean water available for the public in large containers known as "water buffaloes," Bolles said.
The impact on the community provided by the water team is seen instantly by the servicemembers, Bolles said.
"After the floods happened, the community had to have water trucked in at great expense to them," Bolles said. "I see them coming here with a smile on their face, knowing that for many of them their lives were destroyed by this flood. This small gesture means a lot to them."
Not only does the clean water mean a lot to the community, but it holds a special meaning for the team members who came to help.
"You see them come with just about everything imaginable to fill up with water to take back to their homes," said Tech. Sgt. Romano Cedillos, deployed from the Phoenix Air National Guard. "After being able to visit with them and seeing how their community was affected, I feel as if I have made an impact in their lives."
"We are able to make almost any water source potable water in just a few hours," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Nick Luna, who also deployed from Dyess.
The machine the team uses relies on three filters that take out impurities at each stage and use a reverse osmosis system to bring the water back to its purest stage, Luna said.
"For every three gallons of unpotable water the machine pumps in we are able to pump out one gallon of potable water," Luna said. "The water that was not able to be transformed into pure water then is released back into the water source."
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Joel Mease is assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo public affairs.)