By the end of next year SA Army Sappers should be able to provide potable water infield thanks to Armscor’s water provisioning system (WPS).
The system has completed preliminary operational tests and evaluation. Indications from the state-owned defence and security acquisition agency are production of the WPS should start around September/October.
In terms of supplying water infield the WPS will, according to Armscor artillery and engineer systems, detect, purify, store and package water. Plans are in place for the system to be further developed so it can be used to reticulate water on military bases and reclaim water from effluent. In these applications waste water will be stored before treatment and restoration is done after which water that cannot be treated for either agricultural or human use will be disposed of.
Once in service, with current capabilities, with the Engineer Formation of the landward arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), the WPS should ensure there is no recurrence of an incident that saw South African Sappers sent home from a continental peace support deployment some years ago because their water purifying equipment did not meet UN standards.
Work is planned to start on the first prototype water purification system units in February after which the initial units will be delivered to the Engineer Formation. Once further testing and evaluation is completed production will start in the fourth quarter of next year.
The Armscor WPS uses groundwater or water sourced from watercourses such as rivers and streams which is fed into a mobile purification system. Once cleaned it is stored, also in a mobile system, before being packaged in either bottles or sachets, again using a system that can be moved to where needed.
Using a small pump, the WPS can deliver up to 15 000 litres an hour of ground or river water using a diesel engine. It takes less than an hour to set up the system and have it working. Water is purified at a rate of 12 000 litres and hour and this can be stored in either tanks or bladders. Four Sappers have been earmarked as needed to set up and operate the purification side of the system with another two handling the storage side.
The system purifies fresh water by filtration and can handle total dissolved solids (TDS) up to a thousand parts per million. Armscor has designed the system to STANAG (NATO standardisation agreement) standards.
Purified and stored water will go into sachets either 250, 500 or 1 000 ml in size at a rate of over a thousand an hour while bottled water will only be supplied in litre containers. The water packaging side of the system takes a day to set up for sachets with six Sappers while Armscor sees the bottling plant run by 10 Sappers who will need three days to make it productive.
Armscor sees its entry into water purification and supply as part of its stated goal to support peacekeeping and peace support operations as well as being active in disaster management via equipment supply.