Fort Riley looms large to the southwest of Manhattan, spreading over 100,000 acres and serving more than 40,000 active duty service members, their families, and other civilian employees. The base is surrounded by water: it’s sandwiched between two reservoirs – Milford and Tuttle Creek – and located along both the Republican and Kansas Rivers.
Because of this, Fort Riley was selected in 2011 to participate in the “Net Zero Initiative” as one of six Net Zero Water Pilot instillations tasked to maintain the quality and quantity of groundwater and surface water resources in the area. For K-State professor Stacy Hutchinson, this was an opportunity to evaluate the limitations and advantages of an advanced oxidation water treatment process, and assess the applications of this system using water samples from Fort Riley.
The advanced oxidation process – or AOP – is a system that uses UV irradiation and ozone to treat biologically contaminated water. The process isn’t new, but the design is unique: Hutchinson and her team wanted to make the system mobile to assist with troop security in forward deployment areas. Those troops cannot always rely on supply convoys, and often cannot transport caustic chemicals for water decontamination or carry heavy supplies of potable water. Instead, they could use the mobile AOP on water from local sources or wells, even ones contaminated with a biological agent.