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Posted 4/23/2012

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By Karla Marshall
Afghanistan Engineer District-South

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Upgrades to the Afghan National Army's Joint Regional Training Center's wastewater facility near Kandahar were completed April 8, 2012 thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District-South.

"Working with the contractor, ITT Exelis, USACE replaced the aerators in each of the four waste water tanks," said Penny Coulon, the Afghanistan Engineer District-South's quality control representative for the JRAC facility. "The original aerators were not big enough to support the volume of wastewater that travels through the system daily and broke down frequently. We replaced the old aerators with larger, more robust aerators that will need less maintenance."

Aerators are a critical part of treating waste water said ITT Exelis regional manager David Greenlief. "In this system, the influent travels underground to a lift. From the lift it gets pumped into tank number one." In each of the four aeration tanks, the wastewater passes through an aerator to oxygenate the liquid. "The influent spends time in the first then second then third and fourth before ending up in the settling tank," Greenlief said. Once the wastewater gets to the settling pond, it undergoes a 45-minute treatment process before it is released into the nearby wadi (dry creek bed).

Each step of the process, from aeration, to settling, to testing is important, said Greenlief. "We treat the effluent in accordance with World Health Organization standards," he said. "The goal is to ensure that the water we release back into the environment is not hazardous, so our treatment plan includes testing dissolved oxygen levels before we release it."

According to Greenlief, adequate oxygenation is crucial to ensuring that the effluent does not deplete oxygen from the nearby environment and in turn, supports nearby plant growth. "By following the plan we have in place, the waste water actually supports the environment and plant life."

While the effluent is not drinking quality, it is free of harmful micro-organisms and diseases typically attributed to untreated water said Coulon, a Harahan, La. native. "This wastewater treatment facility upgrade has been an important project for me personally," she said. "I came to Afghanistan with the goal of making it a better place when I leave than when I arrived. I can honestly say that this project contributes to the overall sanitation of the training center and the nearby area. I'm proud to have played a role in the project."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversees construction projects throughout Afghanistan that help the government of Afghanistan provide critical services and infrastructure for its citizens. The wastewater treatment facility supports hundreds Afghan and NATO Soldiers who work and train at the Joint Regional Training Center.