Shelter, water, oxygen, food and sleep are the five basic survival needs of human beings. The Far East District provides two of those five needs as they supply not only shelter, but also an adequate and dependable supply of clean water to servicemembers in the republic of Korea.
The district maintains 149 active wells across 25 U.S. military installations on the Korean peninsula. These wells provide approximately six million gallons of water per day and range in depth from 40 to 1050 feet. O Chin-sok, chief of the water well services section, said taking care of all these wells is not for the faint at heart.
“Our job is year-round. Our team is out there in the heart of summer and the dead of winter making sure United States Forces Korea has an ample and healthy water supply.”
The water well section, which includes environmental and civil engineers and geologists, dug its first well in Korea in 1967 at the Joint Security Area. Maintaining wells that are nearly 50 years old can be a tricky job said Shin Hyun-jun, environmental section geologist.
“After some time the water wells can be contaminated. That’s why we do preventative maintenance. We’ll replace pumps and piping if needed and we’ll check for mold and bacteria and sanitize the wells.”
The district develops about one new water well each year.
“Each new well must be able to produce 50 gallons of water per minute,” said O.
Due to environmental or health hazards not every installation in Korea can get their water from wells. However, it is beneficial because it makes United States Forces Korea more self sufficient and a better steward of taxpayer’s money.
“It’s smart to depend on your own water supply in case there is a problem with the city water outside the installation,” said Shin. “Also, since we are providing our own water we don’t have to pay the city,”
Wells on the installations are connected to water treatment plants where the water is treated for use. The water well services section, geotechnical and environmental engineering branch carries out this mission in both armistice and mobilization conditions.