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NREA teaches service members why to conserve water Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms Story by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd
Monday, April 6, 2015
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The Combat Center created a Water Conservation Task Force, Oct. 2014, as a result of the implementation of the base Water Conservation Policy, which was developed as a measure to increase water conservation on the installation. California is currently experiencing a drought and Combat Center patrons can play their part in preserving this resource.

WCTF has taken on this task in an effort to continue decreasing the amount of water resources the base uses per-person. The task force's main goal is to implement new and relevant conservation technologies and teach the community about water conservation.

"We are looking into new technologies to [save water]," said Chris Elliott, water resources manager, Natural Resource and Environmental Affairs. "However, what will make the biggest impact [on water conservation] is to change the [way] Marines, sailors and their families [use water]."

According to Elliott, the Combat Center currently uses approximately 1.8 million gallons of water each day, which decreased from 2 million gallons in 2013.

The United States Geological Survey's current assessment states, in an average American household, a bathroom sink expends 1 gallon of water per minute. Certain tasks such as teeth brushing should take approximately one gallon of water if the water is turned off while performing the task. Teeth brushing takes approximately two minutes, turning off the water saves several gallons of water. Shaving should also take approximately one gallon of water with the sink turned off. While shaving, fill the basin and rinse the razor in the sink rather than leaving the water running.

USGS also says the average American household uses approximately two and a half gallons of water a minute while taking a shower. To minimize water consumption, conduct showers in five to eight minutes or after rinsing turn off the water while lathering and turn the water back on to rinse off.

On average, a kitchen sink uses approximately two gallons of water per minute. While washing dishes it is best to rinse the dish first then turn the water off while scrubbing with soap. Once several dishes have been scrubbed rinse them all at once. Another way would be to fill a large container with soap and water and wash the dishes in the container, replacing the water periodically through the load of dishes.

"California is in a drought right now," Elliott said. "All of the water we have comes from the ground and the only way to replenish that supply is through rain, which we don't get enough of."

According to Elliott, protecting our water resources is an important task for any one living in California. As of 2013, the NREA found the Combat Center uses approximately 73 gallons of water per-person, per-day. Compared to the statistics the Environmental Protection Agency found in its study in 2005, which discovered that, on average, each Californian uses between 101 and 125 gallons of water each day, the Combat Center is already well under the state-wide average for water consumption.

In 2015, the Secretary of the Navy Environmental Awards Program, a program that recognizes Navy and Marines Corps installations for their efforts in environmental awareness, recognized the Combat Center for its efforts in natural resources and sustainability throughout 2014.

As the Combat Center is doing well to conserve water, it is possible to conserve more water and better prepare for life outside of the military.

"When you get up in the morning you don't think about conserving water," Elliott said. "While you are in base housing or the barracks you don't pay for your water. If we can [develop] habits like these, Marines, sailors [and their families] can save money when they leave the military."

The NREA's mission is to preserve the natural resources and the wildlife of the Combat Center. Through changing water faucets in sinks and shows, as well as replacing toilets, and teaching the Combat Center patrons about saving water, NREA has done much to increase water conservation.

For more information on how to conserve water, call 760-830-7883. To report water waste, call the Water Conservation Hotline at 760-830-7283.

Combat Center promotes Water Conservation Plan Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms
Story by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo
Thursday, March 5, 2015
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The Combat Center is currently promoting an installation-wide Water Conservation Plan. The plan is being developed by Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs and is scheduled to be launched in May. It consists of six elements, one of which will educate Marines, sailors and civilians of the Combat Center on how to better conserve water.

The six elements include: management and tracking of water usage, reaching out to the community through education, improvement of water infrastructure, enforcing water usage regulations, reviewing and improving on maintenance procedures and the reviewing of technology that supports water conservation initiatives.

"We are in the desert and experiencing a drought that has no clear end in sight," said Chris Elliott, water resources manager, NREA, native of Gainesville, Fla. "The only water available to continue the training mission here is ground water. Ground water is a non-replenishable resource; meaning we don't receive enough rain to recharge those aquifers at the rate at which we are pulling water out of the ground."

The installation is equipped with a waste water treatment facility which recycles all of the water from the installation's sanitary sewer system. The recycled water amounts to approximately one million gallons of water per day. The waste water is then cleaned, treated and stored as non-potable water which is used to irrigate the Desert Winds Golf Course.

Through documentation of how much water is used, educating members of the community and implementing technology that supports conservation initiatives, the Combat Center is working diligently to preserve resources.

"I think it's important to raise awareness and through that awareness people will then start to take action," Elliott said. “The average person simply doesn't think about water conservation on a daily basis, and we want to try to bring that forward through education and outreach."

A key effort to reduce water usage is the limiting of watering lawns to pre-determined times of day and frequency. These times will be put in place to lessen the amount of water lost to evaporation. The information will be released when the WCP has been launched.

"Everyone aboard MCAGCC is required to adhere to the Commanding General's policy," Elliott said. "The WCP will ultimately be a part of the Combat Center Order 5090, which is an environmental protection order for the base."

As a part of the WCP, the Combat Center continues to implement native landscaping throughout the installation. Grass is not native to the terrain and requires a greater amount of water to maintain. By landscaping the installation with native and drought resistant plants, rocks and artificial turf, the base is able to reduce the amount of water used for garden and lawn upkeep.

Even the way in which the new landscapes are maintained makes a difference. Through utilizing drip irrigation instead of sprinklers to water desert landscapes, the amount of water used will be greatly reduced. Drip irrigation feeds water directly to the roots of the plants, as opposed to spraying an excessive amount of water to soak an entire yard.

NREA believes every entity on base plays an essential role in the WCP. From each unit on base, to the families that live here, it is everyone's responsibility to help conserve water.

"The number one mission of the installation and everyone aboard base is to train Marines," Elliott said. "We have a ton of land and the perfect training environment, but if there's no water here, we're done. We have a responsibility as the federal government, Department of Defense and the Marine Corps to ensure that we sustain all of our available resources."