Environmental stewardship continuous part of Ellsworth operations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
As the 42nd Earth Day came to a close April 22, the many environmental initiatives and projects in which Ellsworth engages in around-the-clock continue to steadily press forward.

Environmental experts were quick to note that Earth Day wasn't intended only as a single day when Airmen should be more aware of their actions and how they impact the world around them. It was meant to be a day when Airmen learn to preserve and improve our environment.

Kevin Goyer, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Water Quality Program engineer who manages compliance with the discharge permits used to regulate the quality of the waste and storm water generated at Ellsworth, takes measures every day to ensure proper water treatment at Ellsworth. His actions are the epitome of conserving today, securing tomorrow.

"People don't often think about where water comes from or where it goes when they're done with it," Goyer said. "Discharges of contaminated wastewater or storm water affect the quality of the receiving water body by making it harder for the natural organisms to survive and reproduce."

Goyer said the water discharged through the sewers of Ellsworth directly impacts everyone across the base. Additionally, it impacts a variety of locations off base, including fisheries, swimming areas, wildlife, livestock, and watering and irrigation uses at Lake Oahe, near Pierre, S.D. He said tap water becomes a mixture of wash water, human and food waste, germs, and troublesome inorganic solids.

"Our wastewater treatment plant removes these contaminates and discharges," Goyer said. "The reclaimed water is sent to a tributary at Box Elder Creek. When we treat water, it's clean enough to use for irrigating the golf course."

In addition to the efforts being made to ensure the quality of water at Ellsworth is nothing less than "pure," in the past decade Ellsworth has made progress in developing and completing energy efficient facilities.

Glenn Meyer, 28th CES vice commander, said that the base metering program has been able to demonstrate significant cost savings related to base utilities.

"Ellsworth has worked extremely hard in the last few years to focus on energy-saving projects," said Meyer. "Through individual metering, we have identified those facilities using the most energy, and have completed projects such as installing better insulation in our aircraft hangars and more efficient heating systems."

Ted Cleberg, 28th CES energy manager, said the specialists in the energy section are working on 27 projects with an estimated value of $21 million.

"The types of projects we're working on include installing infrared heating systems, replacing old boilers with high efficiency systems, major repairs and upgrades in all 30 airfield hangars and putting up solar arrays at the base museum and civil engineer training warehouse," Cleberg said.

Meyer added that in the energy conservation arena alone, Ellsworth has completed more than $8 million worth of projects.

"We've done a great job over the last 10 years in identifying inefficient facilities," Meyer said. "As a result, we have dramatically reduced our consumption of energy and are now less dependent on natural resources required to generate energy in the first place."

As the need to optimize every dollar increases more and more each day, base experts are calling on everyone on base to make every effort they can to make Ellsworth a more environmental friendly community.

"Everyone can help by being energy aware," said Cleberg. "Turn off monitors and lights when they're not needed; open doors and windows during the cool evenings and close them during the heat of the day; turn vehicles off while parked and use task lighting instead of turning on large space lighting."

Meyer added that it's no secret that the Air Force is facing some significant financial challenges, and Airmen need to continue to be the best stewards of all of our resources.

"We have some outstanding professionals on Ellsworth and I'm confident that we will continue to keep Ellsworth a valuable and efficient part of our nation's defense," Meyer said.

These are but a few of the efforts in which Ellsworth Airmen continue to engage in to support environmental initiatives.

For more information on these and other environmental activities on base, visit the Environmental Matters website at ellsworth.af.mil/environment.