By Scott Prater
Since 2007, Schriever AFB has taken many steps to conserve one of our planet’s most precious resources, but this summer, in response to recent drought and higher demand, base leaders have initiated a more ambitious effort.
Lt. Gen. John E. Hyten, Air Force Space Command vice commander, has asked installations to re-examine their current processes, practices and activities in an effort to conserve water.
As directed by Col. James Ross, 50th Space Wing commander, Schriever Air Force Base began following irrigation restrictions that Cherokee Water District, the base’s water provider, has mandated for its regular residential and commercial customers June 6.
“Being a good member of our community includes being good stewards of the land we occupy,” Ross said. “It is the responsible approach to follow the water district’s conservation effort.”
Throughout the summer months, the base will restrict watering to two days a week, Mondays and Fridays, for a total of three hours before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
“This will affect the landscaped areas on base,” said Abe Irshid, 50 SW energy manager. “The grass should begin to look stressed, but following these restrictions will help us two fold. Not only will we meet Cherokee’s consumption restrictions, but this effort will also help us meet AFSPC advisements to reduce our annual water usage.”
In 2007, the Department of Defense initiated Executive Order 13423, which requires facilities to reduce water consumption by 2 percent every year through 2015.
Schriever consumed 83 million gallons of water in fiscal 2007. By fiscal 2011, water consumption had dropped to 80 million gallons. But, it spiked again in fiscal 2012 to 101 million gallons.
“Besides instituting watering restrictions, we’re starting other conservation measures,” Irshid said. “We have a leak detection and repair project initiative. We’re installing xeriscaping around facilities like the visitors center and low-flow fixtures in facilities. Three years ago, we reduced the base improved grounds from 35 acres to 13.5 acres and we’re considering transferring more of our improved land to unimproved land. In addition, to these physical improvements, we’re mounting a conservation awareness campaign to inform base personnel of our need to cut consumption.”
Conservation efforts have begun producing results already. As of May 1, the base has consumed 17 percent less water compared to fiscal 2007.
“We would like to keep moving in that direction,” Irshid said. “Our football, soccer and softball fields aren’t going to look like golf courses. However, these conservation methods are important for us to follow. We need to continue to conserve water to reach our mandated goals.”
Team Schriever members can help make a difference in the overall water conservation effort. Irshid recommends people take shorter showers when they visit the Schriever Fitness Center, turn faucets off while shaving instead of letting water run and report leaking faucets and toilets to maintenance and facility managers.
“The demands on our supply of water increase every year,” said Robert Blevins, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, chief of engineering. “The challenge is to learn how to use our water wisely. This challenge is greater now than ever before as our supply of water is shrinking. Occurrences such as droughts further limit access to clean and fresh water.”
Continuing to find even small ways to cut demand will go a long way toward helping the base reach its goals.
“If we hope to keep costs down, we must all conserve,” Blevins said. “Each of us has a personal responsibility to conserve this precious resource.”