The health of military personnel and their families is a priority for Navy leaders around the world. Access to clean, safe drinking water is essential to good health and readiness so frequent thorough tests are conducted to insure the highest quality is available. New testing methods are often developed to expand the search for possible health threats and sometimes the testing requirements outpace the assets necessary to conduct them.
This was the case recently when Department of Navy (DON) added a unique parasitic protozoa to the essential water quality testing requirements.
This new requirement presented a challenge for Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Europe, Africa, Central (NAVFAC EURAFCENT) water quality professionals who oversee water systems for Navy personnel throughout Europe, Africa and Central Command. Currently, the only Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories with the specialized equipment necessary to perform the tests are located stateside. This is not geographically close enough to allow the samples to arrive in the lab in time for any possible parasites to still be alive.
The search for a solution turned to the European private sector and led to Eau de Paris (Water of Paris), a laboratory in France.
“Drinking water analyses require an ultra-clean laboratory environment and a sophisticated microscope/mercury lamp combination to properly illuminate these dyed parasites. Navy installation labs are not equipped to conduct these tests and only a few European Union (EU) labs can test to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quality control levels required. Water of Paris can conduct the specialized drinking water analysis for this parasitic protozoa called cryptosporidium "crypto" as part of our Surface Water Treatment Rule. It is important that this sampling is done properly to ensure our water treatment systems are configured and operating at their optimal levels,” said Tom Spriggs, Environmental Drinking Water Program Manager for NAVFAC EURAFCENT and Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central.
Water quality samples are sent to Paris from different sites in five countries (Italy, Greece, Spain, Djibouti [Africa] and the Kingdom of Bahrain) for a total of 140 analyses spread over one year.
"The Eau de Paris analysis laboratory is happy and proud to participate in this mission, which aims to ensure the quality of the water distributed and which is also a first for us internationally. You have placed your trust in us and in return know that, as for the inhabitants of Paris, you can count on our expertise, rigor and responsiveness to carry out the analyses within the allotted deadlines, to provide reliable results and to alert you in case of the presence of parasites in the water," noted Dr. Sandrine Destruhaut, head of the analysis laboratory at the Research and Development and Water Quality Department (DRDQE).
"Through this unique partnership, we can protect the health and safety of all our men and women on these installations," added Dr. Spriggs.
NAVFAC EURAFCENT executes approximately $1 billion per year in construction, professional engineering and facilities services for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Defense and North Atlantic Treaty Organization commands in countries throughout Europe, Africa and Central Command where the Navy is the DOD lead agent for military construction.