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Better Bases: Improved Water Efficiency for U.S. Army Reserve

PNNL's in-depth water efficiency assessments for the Army Reserve include innovative approaches for water conservation using alternative water

October 2015
Better Bases: Improved Water Efficiency for U.S. Army Reserve
The irrigation pond at Fort Buchanon stores reclaimed wastewater used for the onsite golf course.

To conserve and protect water resources in the face of climate change, the President signed Executive Order 13514 in 2009. Among other efficiency requirements, the order called for agencies to reduce potable water consumption 26 percent by fiscal year 2020, with a baseline of 2007.

Impact of Alternative Water

PNNL is a leader in the innovative approach of water conservation known as "Alternative Water." Similar to renewable energy, alternative water is the use of other, less conventional sources of water to help offset traditional water usage. A few typical sources of alternative water include rainwater, stormwater, reclaimed wastewater, and graywater.

PNNL is using alternative water strategies in water efficiency projects on Army Reserve installations. One such project involves sending reclaimed wastewater from multiple building groups at Fort Buchanon to their irrigation pond that provides water for the onsite golf course. This replaces the fresh groundwater currently used for irrigation. Projects such as this can dramatically offset traditional freshwater usage where non-potable water can be used.

Quickly acting on this call, the United States Army Reserve partnered with PNNL to perform comprehensive water efficiency assessments for Army Reserve Centers across the nation. The assessments quantify water use at a site and identify opportunities to increase water efficiency and reduce demand. By fiscal year 2014, the Army Reserve reduced potable water use by 30 percent, on track to double the target set by the executive order.

The key to the Army's success lies with the approach PNNL uses to evaluate the Army Reserve sites. Steps include:

  1. Current Water Use Evaluation—Assess the current water use to determine a baseline by reviewing water and sewer bills and onsite water production data, determining water and sewer marginal rates, and conducting a walk-through survey of major water-using equipment.
  2. Water Balance Development—Compare water supply to water use to prioritize for efficiency improvements.
  3. Identification of Water Efficiency Opportunities—Evaluate opportunities that will maximize water use savings.
  4. Economic Analysis—Perform a life-cycle cost analysis that determines the overall cost effectiveness of the retrofit and replacement options.
  5. Implementation Plan—Develop a strategy to prioritize efficiency project implementation.

In just two years, PNNL completed assessments for 82 bases. The Army Reserve plans to adopt the efficiency recommendations, and the bases are working to raise funds to implement the suggestions.

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