RO water system kicks off

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Hundreds line up yesterday to avail of fresh, filtered water from the reverse osmosis system at the Garapan Fishing Base. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The U.S. military completed setting up of a water filtration system at the Garapan Fishing Base yesterday, allowing hundreds to line up to avail of fresh, filtered water.

Yesterday, members of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron out of Anderson Air Force Base, Guam completed setting up the reverse osmosis system, kicking off a line as early as 6am that stretched all the way out of the Garapan Fishing Base.

According to 2Lt. Eric Baldwin, the reverse osmosis system decontaminates ocean water and makes it drinkable.

“It takes ocean water, it gets rid of all the undrinkable stuff like salt and any sort of contaminants, filters it out, and we add some cleaning agents to it…and it makes the water drinkable,” he said.

As of yesterday, due to the high demand and the 15,000-gallon water limit, residents were restricted to three 5-gallon water containers per family until further notice, Baldwin said.

It’s a lot of people…that’s why we’re restricting the water right now…because we know a lot of people here have been without water since the storm hit so we need to meet everyone’s initial demands,” he said.

Baldwin said that he and his crew arrived last Sunday and have been working 24 hours a day in order to get the machine ready.

“We got here Sunday and we immediately started working Sunday morning…we’ve been here working 24 hours a day,” he said.

Baldwin said that an RO system is a complicated and costly filtration system that is only used when absolutely necessary.

“With any sort of RO system, the system is very complicated; they’re very expensive as well, that’s the reason why you don’t see them in normal civilian use, only in disaster relief use or where water sources are not commonly available,” he said.

Baldwin said that the construction of the RO system went as smoothly as it could, thanks to the cooperation of various agencies.

“The local government has been very cooperative. Any sort of issue we’ve had, any sort of need, they have met immediately. [Federal Emergency Management Agency] has been very cooperative and our home base has been working as hard as they can to give us everything we need as soon as we need it,” he said.

The U.S. Air Force is also in the process of constructing an RO system on Tinian and will remain on the island until their services are no longer needed.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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