Support our mission

The U.S. Air Force has made water quality test results available to base residents stateside and overseas since at least 2003.

The Air Force’s active approach is rooted in a congressional amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1996, requiring that community water systems deliver a brief annual water quality report to customers.

That law doesn’t extend outside the United States. But, four years ago, the Air Force applied similar guidance to all of its installations, including those overseas.

The service’s Safe Drinking Water Surveillance Program mandates that Air Force-owned or -operated drinking water systems regularly serving at least 25 year-round residents will provide a water quality report to base customers by July 1 every year.

But how the Air Force delivers those reports, and the accessibility of those documents to the public, varies from base to base in the Pacific.

Misawa Air Base in northern Japan recently posted its 2006 report online at http://www.misawa.af.mil. The base checked for more than 100 substances at differing intervals.

“In short, Misawa’s water meets all the [Environmental Protection Agency] and Air Force health standards,” the report states, noting that “the vast majority of regulated substances were not found in Misawa’s water.”

Yokota Air Base near Tokyo also compiled a similar report this spring, running a news item about it in the base newspaper. The story said findings indicate that water quality at both Yokota and Tama Hills Recreational Annex is “excellent.”

To view the complete report, residents must visit the 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office or the Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight.

Kadena Air Base’s 2006 report notes that tests for more than 100 contaminants were conducted last year on the Okinawa base. Of those, 15 contaminants were detected, with one — total coliform — at a level higher than the maximum allowed. The report explained what the contaminant was and what was done to resolve the problem.

“We perform follow-up testing until all samples are negative,” the report states.

Kadena’s report is available at http://www.kadena.af.mil (under Kadena Links section). Also, housing officials plan to deliver copies of the report to every occupied military family housing unit on Okinawa, base officials said. The Air Force handles all family housing on the island.

The Air Force and the Marine Corps plan to e-mail servicemembers directing them to the water quality report, officials said.

Both Air Force bases in South Korea — Osan and Kunsan — published the results of their 2006 water testing.

Kunsan officials said the base water meets both U.S. EPA and Korean Environmental Governing Standards, which they say are identical.

Officials tested for more than 70 contaminants at Kunsan. Trace amounts of 14 contaminants were discovered, according to the report, but all fell “well below EPA and Air Force standards.”

The report can be found at www.kunsan. af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123058167.

Osan officials reported that “with the exception of elevated lead levels in Bldgs. 764 and 750, your tap water” meets EPA and South Korean standards.

Officials installed water filters at the two buildings, according to the report, which can be found at www.osan.af.mil/shared/ media/document/AFD-070701-033.doc.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up