The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognized Naval Air Station Whiting Field’s water supply facilities with an award for their “outstanding” water systems and programs, Oct. 16.
NAS Whiting Field was named the best “Small Community Water System” for FDEP’s Northwest District. The award is a tribute to the Public Works Department which oversees the facility locally. Public Works is managed from Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast out of Jacksonville, Fla. It also serves as high praise for the technicians who maintain the system and test the water; Eddie Wright, Ray Harper and Lowell Stokes. While those three operators are the first line in the oversight of NAS Whiting Field’s drinking water, it is a team effort to keep everything above standards, according to Mike Pattison, the installation environmental program director.
"The fact that the Whiting Field drinking water system is recognized for this award is a testament to the hard work, pride and commitment of the PRI/DJI system operators and the Public Works Department. Melissa Fusco, our drinking water manager, does an outstanding job of ensuring that the water system remains compliant with the many FDEP requirements, and our utilities manager, Reggie Parker, is great at ensuring the necessary funding is in place to keep the water system operating effectively and efficiently," Pattison said.
The program evaluated the quality of the water produced, sampling procedures, maintenance procedures, emergency plans, record keeping, and more. The package submitted to the review board, showed how NAS Whiting Field’s water management team maintained a system that consistently produced high quality water, sampled the water for contaminants far more regularly than required, and performed more maintenance than state law regulates. A February 2012 inspection of the system by the FDEP reinforced the outstanding program in place, by finding zero violations during their review.
Much of the water distribution system used at the base today is still from the original water production facility put in place in 1943. A great deal of care and attention helps keep the system operating at peak efficiency- a fact recognized by the award.
"I was excited to get the call because it is the first time NAS Whiting Field submitted an application for the award and it was unexpected being a first time applicant,” Fusco emphasized. “Overall, it shows how much the Public Works Department and the Drinking Water Operators care about being in compliance with environmental regulations."