Water plant bottles water for troops

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Since 2005, the Oasis International Waters bottling plant here has provided Soldiers in northern Iraq with clean bottled water, enabling Soldiers to stayhydrated while focusing on their mission.
Peter Balitski , the quality assurance reverse osmosis manger, said the plant does everything from purifying the water, to making the bottle and packaging it through highly automated equipment. He said the number one priority of the plant is to provide safe water for the Soldiers.
“We pride ourselves on being able to provide an adequate amount ofpurified water for the troops,” Balitskisaid.
The plant runs 24-hours a day,seven days a week and produces up to two million bottles per week.
Even though the plant produces a high amount of bottled water, the quality does not suffer, Balitski said.
“We fall under the same regulations as any bottling plant in the United States and we’re expected to meet the same regulations imposed by the Food and Drug Administration,”Balitski said.
“We proudly meet those expectations.” Each of the six bottling plants located around Iraq are designed to support the population on its home base and the forward operating bases in close proximity to it.
“The water is distributed from our facility to the class one yard, where it is allocated to convoys headed to the outlying FOBs,” Balitski said.
Maj. Stephanie J. Requa, class one officer in charge for the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said the water bottling plant has been successful because Soldiers are not on the road delivering water long distance. She said it also saves the Army a lot of money to bottle water locally.
“It is beneficial to have water produced where it is needed, instead of having it shipped in from other countries,” Requa, said. “We save approximately, $900,000 a month using the six water bottling plants in theater.”
The bottles are first formed from a five-inch plastic tube into a one liter bottle. Then, the newly made bottles are filled with purified water that is initially pumped from a canal near JBB fed by the Tigris River.
“We run it through a very complex water processing system,” Balitski said. The 20th Quartermaster Company from Fort Campbell, Ky., has a very close working relationship with the plant because they supply and maintain the equipment used to pump the water from the canal to the plant.
Balitski said from the time thebottle is made, filled, capped and loaded on a pallet, there is no human contact.
“No one touches it from the beginning to the end,” Balitski said.
Balitski said his favorite part of working in this environment is the interaction with the Soldiers here on JBB. He said when he is in the diningfacility, Soldiers come up to him, recognize him from the logo on his shirt and say, “Hey you’re the water bottling guy.”
“It’s a source of personal pride forme to be working in this environment with the troops here and the U.S. military,” Balitski said.
Balitski said the entire company and everyone that works here takes pride in providing a life sustaining element for the troops.
“The biggest reward we get is when a Soldier thanks us,” Balitski said.