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Corporals Kyle Slusher and Cody Sorrell, water purification specialists with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, operate the Tactical Water Purification System to purify Moroccan ocean water into a clean water source for Marines with the 24th MEU training with the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, April 10, 2012. The TWPS allowed the Marines to produce clean water for forces ashore during their training exercise so that they did not have to be resupplied with bottled water or by other means during the exercise. African Lion 12 is the first exercise of a regularly scheduled 8-month deployment for the 24th MEU and Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, which deployed in March.

Photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

Marines hydrate with purified ocean water

12 Apr 2012 | Sgt. Richard Blumenstein 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Water purification specialists with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, put their water purification systems to the test on a Moroccan beach April 10, during the bi-lateral exercise named African Lion 2012.
The Marines assembled a Tactical Water Purification System (TWPS) and Lightweight Water Purification System (LWPS) on the beach to turn ocean water into a sustainable, potable water source for the Marines conducting training operations with the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, and test the systems on a foreign water source. “Instead of bringing thousands of pallets of water ashore, this is what we use,” said Cpl. Kyle Slusher, a water purification specialist with CLB 24. “This is what’s going to sustain our force, and we can use it wherever there is a water source.” Marines use water purification systems to sustain their forces and also to provide water for a number of other operations such as disaster relief, and humanitarian assistance, according to Cpl. Cody Sorrell, a water purification specialist. “We can use this capability for any sort of mission where Marines are going to be there a long period of time,” Sorrell said. “You can’t conduct operations without a sustainable water source.” The current mission is to provide a clean water source for Marines training ashore in the desert landscape of Morocco. The water these Marines produce are sustaining the training units ashore who are working with members of the Moroccan military. Without this capability, the logistics problem of supplying clean water to the shores of Morocco would become a problem of time and money that would distract from the mission of training between the Marines and Moroccans. The TWPS is 10,000 pounds, and able to purify approximately 10,000 gallons of water a day by pumping it through a series of filters, which reduce the TDS (total dissolved solids) rating to a level more than fit for human consumption. Pound for pound for Marines on the ground, it is more than worth its weight in water. “It’s better than bottled water,” said Slusher. According to the Marion, Ohio native, the average bottle of water has a TDS ratting between 400 and 500. Using the TWPS, water purification specialist can reduce the TDS ratting to 20. “A bottle of water from the TWPS is more pure than what you would get from a factory,” he said. “It’s because the only thing we have to add back into the water is chlorine to preserve it.” The TWPS has the ability to purify water ranging from lake water to nuclear contaminated water, he said. “If a nuclear bomb went off behind me, we would be able to provide contaminate free water in an hour,” he said. The LWPS is a smaller version of the TWPS. While not able to boast the same range of capabilities as the TWPS, its use is focused on supplying a small force. Weighing 3,580 pounds the system is able to provide around 2,000 gallons of water a day. “We use this somewhere we have a really small foot print,” he said. The last opportunity the Marines had to test their system’s capabilities was in September 2011 at Fort Pickett, Va., where they filtered lake water, substantially easy to filter in comparison to the salty ocean water they now face in Morocco, according to Slusher. “Right now we’re showing we can get in, set up and operate it anywhere,” he said.