Air Force Signs Deal to Privatize Water, Wastewater Systems at Vandenberg AFB

A $299 million, 50-year contract the Air Force has signed to privatize water distribution and wastewater collection at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is expected to save about 1.1 billion gallons of water over the contract’s lifespan.

American Water Operations and Maintenance, a private utility company based in Voorhees, N.J., will reintroduce potable water into the utility system during fire-hydrant flushing instead of dumping the water into storm drains, reported Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) Public Affairs. To eliminate stagnant water that is vulnerable to growing contaminates, utilities typically flush it through fire hydrants. American Water instead will draw the stagnant water from the lines, provide chemical treatment and recycle the water back into the system.

In the first three years of the contract, the utility plans to invest about $11 million in Vandenberg’s water systems.

“Maintaining utility systems is no longer a core competency of the Air Force,” said Rick Weston, head of the AFCEC Utilities Privatization program management office. “Private industry does it day in and day out, so they can normally do it cheaper than we can,” Weston said.

Over the past 17 years, the Air Force has privatized 167 systems, helping the service to save $511 million. Sixty utility systems — including electric, natural gas, water and wastewater — are in various stages of the solicitation process to be privatized, according to the story.

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