Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight ensures installation water quality

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
When you turn on your sink faucet, do you know what comes out? Members of the 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight do.

This flight is responsible for testing and overseeing contracted water testing of the entire Dover AFB water supply and ensuring a healthy community by monitoring water quality.

“We conduct routine water quality tests to make sure nobody’s drinking contaminated water,” said Senior Airman Alexander Delfs, 436th AMDS bioenvironmental engineering journeyman. “We make sure there isn’t anything in the water that could make people sick. Water is one of the most basic necessities of life, and our mission is to make sure ours meets the highest standards of quality.”

Members of this flight actively test the installation’s youth-age program facilities and aircraft watering points, the authorized sources of potable water used for consumption and plumbing on aircraft.

Each month, they conduct on-location tests to determine water pH and chlorine levels and send water samples to an off-base lab to determine presence of bacteriologic contaminates. They also conduct non-routine water tests after maintenance, in response to complaints or when samples are found to contain bacteriologic contamination.

At the youth center, child development center and the schools, they also monitor fluoride concentrations, Delfs said. Fluoride is routinely added to school water supplies to maintain children’s dental health, but in high enough concentrations, it can be toxic, therefore ensuring proper concentration is paramount.

“We focus heavily on the youth-age program facilities, because the children are very important to all of us and the mission,” Delfs said. “The Air Force works hard to take care of its Airmen and their families, and this is one way we help ensure their wellbeing.”

The 436th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight’s water testing plan satisfies requirements outlined in Air Force Instruction 48-144.

Any water quality tests required above those in the AFI are performed by Tidewater Utilities Inc. This contracted company randomly tests installation water sources representative of the entire base monthly to satisfy both Environmental Protection Agency, AFI and contract requirements. These tests provide a more expansive picture of water quality on base and allow the 436th AMDS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight to create a comprehensive annual survey for the installation.

“We do an excellent job of ensuring water quality,” said Staff Sgt. Nichole McDannell, 436th AMDS NCO in charge of environmental operations. “We make sure Dover AFB’s water quality is kept at the highest standards of purity and make sure our Airmen and families aren’t subjected to water-borne illnesses. Water’s something we all take for granted every day. We make sure it’s safe, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

Water quality findings are consolidated in an annual consumer confidence report released each January.

In addition to ensuring water quality standards for the installation, this flight also monitors industrial hygiene, radiation protection and provides emergency response for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Enhanced Conventional Weapons threats.