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NEWS | Oct. 19, 2022

People First as Fort Hunter Liggett Repaired Water Main Break

By Ashley Bradford, Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate Office of the Chief, Army Reserve

People first is a top priority of the Army Reserve. In the face of an installation-wide water emergency, the leadership and personnel at Fort Hunter Liggett, California kept the care and safety of their community at the forefront while resolving the issue and maintaining the mission. Through swift actions coupled with transparent and frequent communication, the installation ensured a supply of safe water to Soldiers, Civilian employees, tenant organizations, and Families while remaining operational. 

“On August 11, we discovered a major break in a 12-inch water main that was caused by pressure changes associated with routine replacement of a valve,” explained Col. Lisa Lamb, Garrison Commander. “So we immediately shut off water across the post and brought in portable water trailers and toilets from a neighboring Army installation. In the days that followed, housing was able to quickly relocate on-post residents from homes that use geothermal-powered air conditioning to temporary accommodations during the repairs. We were also able to turn our water back on two days later for flushing toilets, and a few days later under a boil water notice for drinking and cooking purposes. I’m happy to report we have returned to normal as the broken water main pipe was replaced and new valves were added. Our complete water system was tested by an independent laboratory and the State Water Board approved lifting the boil water notice.”

Throughout August and September, the Fort Hunter Liggett command team, along with subject matter experts across staff sections, addressed the public and fielded questions and concerns through numerous forums. “We utilized email, emergency phone alerts, voice notifications, paper flyers, social media, and videos to provide frequent status updates on repairs, demonstrate water testing, and reported any associated temporary outages,” shared Lamb. “We also held live town halls and broadcasted them virtually to answer in-person and online questions on-the-spot. We were open, completely transparent, and provided the information that our community wanted and deserved to know.”

The installation’s Directorate of Public Works, in compliance with State Water Board policy, partnered with a team of contracted, certified personnel to conduct thorough water sampling and testing across facilities. “Throughout the entire event, every Monday, personnel from an accredited lab collected water samples from select sites. Fort Hunter Liggett Preventative Health also took additional samples to ensure we were getting enough chlorine into our well-water system. The results from our rigorous testing routinely resulted in meeting potable water system standards but we maintained the boil notice for an extended time after our samples were verified and showed there were no root cause contaminates. We absolutely needed to make sure our entire system was clean and free from health hazards,” added Lamb.

Although times of utility disruption can be an inconvenience, the Fort Hunter Liggett community rallied together and embodied its motto, “Coyote Strong.” Installation staff, residents, and tenant organizations partnered to support each other. From community gatherings such as barbeques, donations from the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, acts of kindness like neighbors feeding other neighbors, and tenant units helping with water distribution, morale remained high. Additionally, there were extremely limited closures, and installation amenities and facilities such as the Dining Facility, the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Bowling Alley, the Hacienda, and the Fitness Center remained open to maintain quality of life standards.  

“While we can’t control these unexpected events, we can absolutely control how we react to them,” explained Lamb. “I’m extremely proud of how our Soldiers, Civilians, tenant units, and Families took care of each other, and we are much stronger coming out on the other side. The safety and health of our people will always be number one.”