HomeNewsArticle Display

BEE ensures top quality water

BEE tests for potential for hydrogen, free available chlorine, bacteriological tests and other contaminants to ensure safe and clean drinking water.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Esteban Cruz, 20th AMDS bioenvironmental engineering (BEE) program manager, tests a water sample’s fluoride levels Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2017. BEE tests for potential for hydrogen, free available chlorine, bacteriological tests and other contaminants to ensure safe and clean drinking water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

The 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight (BEE) contracts an outside agency to perform state mandated water quality tests, while BEE performs Air Force mandated tests. BEE takes six water samples monthly to check free available chlorine and pH levels as well as perform bacteriological tests.

Sam Miller, Aquatic Analytics owner, tests for potential for hydrogen (pH) and chlorine in a water sample at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 17, 2017. The 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight (BEE) contracts an outside agency to perform state mandated water quality tests, while BEE performs Air Force mandated tests. BEE takes six water samples monthly to check free available chlorine and pH levels as well as perform bacteriological tests. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

The 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight (BEE) performs Air Force mandated tests and contracts an outside agency to perform state mandated water quality tests. BEE rotates the testing sites every month to ensure they receive a varied measurement of the water quality across the entire base.

Sam Miller, Aquatic Analytics owner, disinfects a water quality testing site at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 17, 2017. The 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight (BEE) performs Air Force mandated tests and contracts an outside agency to perform state mandated water quality tests. BEE rotates the testing sites every month to ensure they receive a varied measurement of the water quality across the entire base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

The 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight (BEE) contracts an outside agency to perform state mandated water quality tests, while BEE performs Air Force mandated tests. In addition to the monthly water quality testing, BEE tests the water if any base housing residents call with any concerns regarding their water quality or if a water line breaks.

Sam Miller, Aquatic Analytics owner, collects a water sample at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 17, 2017. The 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight (BEE) contracts an outside agency to perform state mandated water quality tests, while BEE performs Air Force mandated tests. In addition to the monthly water quality testing, BEE tests the water if any base housing residents call with any concerns regarding their water quality or if a water line breaks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Airmen assigned to the 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering flight go to great lengths so the base has the best quality water possible.

“We sample at least two of the wells on base and four other locations around the base that we rotate monthly,” said Senior Airman Esteban Cruz, 20th AMDS BEE program manager. “The three parameters that we’re looking for when we sample water are pH (potential for hydrogen), free available chlorine and the Bac-T (bacteriological tests) sample.”

Other contaminants BEE tests for are fluoride, nitrate, volatile organic compounds, inorganic chemicals, lead, copper, nitrite and radionuclides. These contaminants are not tested monthly but on a separate schedule.

Fluoride in the water is sampled four times per month. Nitrate and volatile organic compounds are checked annually. Inorganic chemicals, lead and copper are tested every three years, and nitrite and radionuclides are tested every nine years.

BEE makes certain the testing sites are rotated every month so they can have a good measurement of the water quality across the entire base.

“We are ensuring contaminants that can make people sick are not in our water; that’s what the Bac-T tells us,” said Maj. Alfred Doby, 20th AMDS BEE commander. “The free available chlorine is a really important part because that’s the disinfectant we use to ensure the water is clean. The pH test determines if our water is corrosive or acidic. The pH doesn’t affect the quality of our water; what it tells us is there is something in our (water) lines that can be affecting our infrastructure.”

BEE contracts an outside agency to perform state mandated water quality tests, while BEE Airmen perform Air Force mandated tests.

Other instances when BEE tests the water quality on base include when there is work being done to a water line and when a water line breaks. The flight will wait for Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineering Squadron to repair the break before taking samples.

BEE also tests the water if any base housing residents call with any concerns regarding their water quality.

Doby stated how passionate he and other BEE members are about making sure they provide clean and safe water to consumers.

“We have never had a notice of violation, which is like a fine from the state for not following protocol or for exceeding a limit for something in the water, in the past five years,” said Doby. “Really, we have the best water in ACC. During the 2016 (Unit Effectiveness Inspection), we were given a Best Practice award and a Program Strength award for our drinking water surveillance program.”

Through various awards gained from the base’s water excellence, the bioenvironmental engineering flight plans on continuing this excellence across for years to come as well as showcase the findings to the base populous through the use of the Consumer Confidence Report.

“The Consumer Confidence Report is a report that we generate and push out to all residents on base,” Doby said. “In that report, we give a list of everything we sample based on a three-year sampling schedule. We give the results and are increasing the confidence of the consumer because we are showing that our water has been clean for an entire year. You can look at all the things that we’ve tested over the past year and the requirements, and they are all (meet the state requirements). We are spot on, providing clean and safe water, and we will continually do that year after year.”

Base residents can find the Consumer Confidence Report at http://www.shaw.af.mil.