Altus AFB tests water quality: ensures safe drinking water

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Breanna Klemm
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The 97th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight takes monthly water samples to help manage safe drinking water at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

The Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight is responsible for occupational and environmental health of all personnel and residents of Altus AFB and those living off base. The flight monitors and analyzes the drinking water quality to make sure it continues to comply with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency and Air Force standards.

“The water used on and off base is safe to drink and meets all safe drinking water requirements at a local and federal level,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Austin Bennett, the 97th OMRS Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight commander. “As far as we and the City of Altus know, there is nothing in the drinking water that will affect your health based on what we sample. It is perfectly healthy to drink.”

The flight tests for bacteria, pH and chlorine in the drinking water that is used by Altus AFB and the City of Altus every month. Additionally, a bacteria known as trihalomethanes (TTHM) is tested quarterly alongside an active monitoring system. If too much of these elements are present, it can be harmful if consumed.

“Each month we test for a number of things including chlorine, pH and bacteria,” said Bennett. “The bacteria is the main thing we are looking for because we want to make sure we do not have some sort of bacterial contamination in our water. Testing for chlorine and pH can also help notify us of bacterial contamination too. If one of these levels is off, it could be the result of an underlying bacteria problem.”

Bennett explained the community has come a long way with water quality and there is a huge difference from what it used to be. “During a large drought in 2013, there was a point where the water in Altus was not drinkable,” said Bennett. “Since then, the City of Altus and the base have been constantly working hard to ensure the quality of water is safe and healthy for everyone who uses it.”

Altus AFB and the City of Altus continue to work together to help ensure safe drinking water for the public through monthly water testing. “The Air Force remains committed to identifying and addressing environmental impacts to communities surrounding our installations,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, the 97th Air Mobility Wing commander. “The safety of our Airmen, their families, and our community partners is our priority.

These actions will help ensure we continue meeting that priority.” To learn more about the drinking water quality consumed for Altus AFB and the City of Altus, view the annual Consumer Confidence Reports here: