FORT POLK, La. — Water is often referred to as the essence of life. Water flows through blood, cushions joints and without water, we cannot digest or absorb food. In the Louisiana heat, this makes the mission of the water purification platoon, affectionately called Water Dogs, a vital part of train­ing.

Soldiers with water purification platoon, 127th Quartermaster Company, 189th Combat Sustain­ment Support Battalion are currently providing clean drinking water at Intermediate Staging Base Alexandria to support a

month-long, joint opera­tional access exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

The process begins with the command estimat­ing the number of troops, along with the environ­ment and workload to calculate how much water will be needed to support the exercise per day.

The Water Dogs pro­duced 6,000 gallons of filtered, clean water from a nearby bayou with their tactical water purification system to help support the mission on their first day.

“The water we produce is one thousand times bet­ter than the water we start with,” said Spc. Zachery Ash, a water purifica­tion specialist with 127th

Quartermaster Company, 189th Combat Sustain­ment Support Bn. “In a field environment, if you don’t have water, you are out of the fight.”

The water purification process is a long system of filters and pumps. The first pump pulls the water from the raw source. It is then acted upon by the cyclone separator, which uses gravity to pull small solid particles out of the water.

Then the water is stored in a micro filtration feed bag until it filters through 12 micro filtration tubes.

The water then flows under pressure through the reverse osmosis filters that remove dissolved solids from the water. It is

then stored for distribu­tion.

The storage bags can hold up to 3,000 gallons of water at a time.

“As long as we keep the chlorine residual up and the bags closed to prevent anything from getting into the bags, we can store water indefinitely,” said Sgt. Dominic Barillari, water purification supervi­sor with 127th QM Co., 189th CSS Bn. “It will evaporate before it goes bad.”

The Water Dogs certify their water every time they produce at a new site. Their water must pass strict quality testing standards by preventive medical personnel prior to distr ibution.