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    Water Dogs: Heroes Unseen

    Water Dogs: Heroes Unseen

    Photo By Sgt. Nathaniel Free | Army Sgt. Abdiel Colon, assigned to the 973rd Quartermaster Company from Ceiba, Puerto...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Nathaniel Free 

    128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    PRICE BARRACKS, Belize, May. 24, 2017 – Army Sgt. Abdiel Colon cocked his head to the distant sound of an approaching truck. “They’re here,” he said, alerting his team of soldiers.

    As the truck came near, the back-up alarm blared through the dense jungle foliage in a remote corner of Price Barracks, Belize. All at once, the flatbed appeared on the dirt road into the clearing, carrying three large, empty bags, like deflated balloons.

    Colon’s team flew into action, either running to greet the truck with a long blue fire hose, or checking the rattling generators that power a network of pumps. In a few short minutes, the three bags on the back of the truck swelled with 1,500 gallons of purified water—liquid gold, in the tropical heat of Belize.

    Colon and his team of eight to twelve soldiers are assigned to the 973rd Quartermaster Company from Ceiba, Puerto Rico. The “water dogs,” as they are called, are the only water treatment specialists in the Puerto Rican Army Reserves. They are here in support of Beyond the Horizon 2017, a U.S. Army South partnership exercise with the Government of Belize that consist of five construction projects and three health care events in communities across the country.

    Without water dogs like Colon and his team, the four hundred military personnel who come through Belize on a two-week rotational basis, wouldn’t have access to purified water.

    “This is not normal operating conditions for us,” said Colon.

    Typically their pumps pull water directly from a river or a lake, he explained. But here, they had to create their own artificial lake with five large doughnut-shaped bladders, each holding 3,000 gallons of well-drawn water.

    A medium-sized tactical water purification system is roughly the size of a shipping container, and it can purify 1,500 gallons of water in an hour, said Army Spc. Ricardo Lamoso, from the 973rd Quartermaster Company.
    The water is pulled from an underground source and pumped through a filter called a dolphin strainer, explained Lamoso. The dolphin strainer is designed to remove large particles and rocks, before being deposited into the reservoirs. The water is then pumped out of the reservoirs and through basket strainers, to remove suspended particles, then through microfiltration filters, to remove microorganisms, and finally, a series of grey, vertical pillars, where the pressurized water goes through a process called reverse-osmoses, producing the same quality of water found in store-bought bottles.

    The final step, before the water is dumped into tanks on the back of the truck, is to add chlorine, to kill any disease-causing pathogens that the water may come in contact with during it’s journey.

    The water truck delivers 12 tons of potable water to the kitchen, latrines, and water buffalos, five times daily. The water buffalos are then delivered to each of the engineer sites across Belize, in Belmopan, Double Head Cabbage, St. Matthews and Ladyville.

    “They are sent to purify about half a million gallons,” said 1st Lt. Rene Gali, commander of Forward Support Company, 448th Engineer Battalion from Ft. Buchannan, Puerto Rico. “They set a goal, and they are training to standard.”

    To put this into perspective, 550,000 gallons is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

    “They are about to hit that mark this week,” Gali said.

    Because of the hardworking efforts of the water dogs, military members across Belize have come to enjoy toilets that flush, warm showers, ice-filled coolers and crystal-clear streams that flow from every faucet.

    “They’ve done an amazing job,” said Gali. “They’ve been outstanding. They’re the heroes unseen.”



    Date Taken: 05.22.2017
    Date Posted: 06.03.2017 22:48
    Story ID: 236229
    Location: LADYVILLE, BZ 

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