PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (March 9, 2022) – The U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey will save more than 2,000 gallons of drinking water every day — more than 730,000 gallons per year — with a system of Gray Water which began operating in a Marine Corps Barracks on March 9.
Pyeatt Barracks, in Building 827, houses approximately 740 Marines. The system collects water from showers and sinks, filters it and then uses it again in toilets, said Rich Thorne, energy manager, Department of Public Works, US Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey. The system demonstrates the Army’s commitment to the environment and the preservation of resources.
“Being on the Monterey Peninsula, water is precious, so this is part of the military’s effort to help the community achieve that goal of trying to reduce and conserve water where possible” , Thorne said.
The system will also save money, Thorne said. With each gallon of water costing 3 cents, the system will save approximately $1,800 per month.
Erika Marx, environmental protection specialist for USAG PoM, said the system is particularly relevant because California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide drought emergency in October 2021 that forced local water agencies to implement water conservation measures.
In addition to saving water, with the compensation for water use provided by the system, PoM can claim water “credits” from the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, said Marx. The credits enable PoM to build new facilities and renovate older facilities to support the mission of the Defense Language Institute’s Foreign Language Center.
The tanks for the gray water system are in a room at the rear of the building, and officials from the Garrison, City of Monterey, Monterey County, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met Dec. 9 2021 to receive training on how to maintain the system. The system began operating on March 9 after county health department officials approved the quality of the filtered water. In this regard, the system also shows how PoM works with local government agencies.
Although the system only uses toilet water, it still has to meet strict non-potable water quality standards because people could still come into contact with it, Thorne said.
“That’s why we have all the filtration and [ultraviolet cleaning devices]as well as a chlorine injection to help chlorinate the water before it goes back up the pipes,” Thorne said.
For the first year, the company that created the system will maintain it, Thorne said. After that, City of Monterey staff will likely maintain it.
Bob Tuscany, a seasoned craftsman from the city of Monterey, attended the training and took detailed notes on how to maintain the system.
While most military installations offer projects to local municipalities one by one, PoM and the City of Monterey began working together in a pilot program in 1998 to save money and provide services in the under a single contract. The partnership proved successful, and in 2013 federal legislation creating what are now called Intergovernmental Support Agreements came into effect so that other military installations and municipalities could take advantage of similar arrangements.
The new gray water system is part of a larger plan to save water on PoM. For example, the Garrison is working on implementing a similar system in Building 630, Thorne said.
Additionally, garrison officials have a plan for a base-wide system that would collect sewage around the base and use treated water in newly constructed buildings, Thorne said. The system does not yet have a specific timetable.