Sustainable Fort Rucker
Sustainable Fort Rucker
 : : Environmental & Natural Resources Division, Directorate of Public Works (DPW) : :

MISSION: In order to sustain the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker's training, readiness, and quality of life needs, we will provide the guidance, actions, and customer assistance necessary to comply with all environmental laws and regulations, prevent pollution where possible, protect and conserve vital natural resources, and continually improve our operations.

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Wastewater Management


Water quality in the United States is regulated by the Federal Water Pollution Act, as amended by the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1977 and further amendments in 1987. It has the objective of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's navigable waters. This legislation gave authority to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish regulatory standards for wastewater discharges, stormwater runoff, and sewage sludge use and disposal practices. The primary tool for wastewater compliance is through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, generally delegated to and overseen by state environmental programs. NPDES permits are issued and monitored to private and federal facilities ensure compliance with the standards.

Fort Rucker maintains compliance with wastewater standards under several NPDES permits. At Shell Army Heliport, the wastewater is routed to the city of Enterprise for treatment.

Fort Rucker employees, residents, and students specifically affect wastewater through their discharges to the sanitary sewer inside buildings, on the washrack, and through stormwater (rainwater runoff) that washes across parking lots, motorpools, and flight lines. Personnel are encouraged to review the Fort Rucker consolidated plan (located at the top of this page) which contains site specific information about washracks, sanitary sewer drains, and stormwater drains. A brief summary of this guidance is provided below.

Sanitary Sewer


Do not discharge anything into inside drains unless you are sure it is approved by the DPW Environmental Division. Although these pipes route discharges to the wastewater treatment plant, unauthorized pollutants could damage or interfere with the treatment process. It could also create safety problems if a hazardous material with dangerous vapors builds up inside piping. If an unexpected incident occurs during the handling of fuel or hazardous substances and a large volume is discharged to the sanitary sewer, contact the Fort Rucker Fire Department (255-0044 or 911 if emergency) as well as the DPW Duty Officer at 255-9041/9042 to alert the proper personnel.

Washracks


To comply with federal and state regulations, all washing or rinsing activities associated with mission or industrial processes must occur at an approved washrack. Washracks are wash areas which are equipped with an oil-water separator which captures oil and fuel residue from the water and routes the water on to a wastewater treatment plant. The only approved washrack for vehicle washing on Fort Rucker is the Transportation Motorpool (TMP) on Dilly Branch Road. Only aircraft may be washed on the washracks at the airfields. Most of Fort Rucker's washracks have an overhead cover which minimizes the effects of rain water on contaminants that may be present on washrack areas. Do not use any type of soap or solvent on the washracks unless it is authorized by your organization's Environmental Officer and DPW-ENRD.

Stormwater

Stormwater is the runoff that occurs from rain as it washes across parking lots, flight lines, motorpools, or other ground areas. If contaminants are present on the ground from leaking vehicles or other sources, these contaminants are carried away with the stormwater. In addition to moving contaminants, stormwater can also cause physical damage with its flow force. Sometimes a specially designed drainage system is in place to channel the water so it is not destructive, and other times, nature creates a path of its own to channel the stormwater. Contaminant migration as well as erosion can be violations of the Clean Water Act. 

Housing Residents:


Housing residents are exempt from certain regulations which govern work sites, and they are allowed to wash vehicles at home. However, use of commercial car wash facilities is recommended whenever possible since they are equipped with oil-water separators. A car wash facility on Fort Rucker is located by the Auto Craft Shop on 5th Street.

If hazardous substances such as antifreeze, oil, or gasoline are spilled outside of housing quarters, residents are asked to clean them up. This can be done by absorbing any free product with paper towels or by using commercial absorbents such as spill pads, drysweep, or kitty litter (available at auto parts stores, Walmart, etc). Dirt or sand may also be somewhat effective if available. Loose absorbent material works by being sprinkled over the spill, pushed around with a broom to allow the substance to be absorbed, and then cleaned up with the broom and dustpan. Place used absorbents into plastic bags and place in regular garbage. Used absorbent or used paper towels can be disposed of by placing material in garbage bags and placing in regular garbage.

Summary


Remember these important points about wastewater:

  • Wash vehicles only at approved locations 
  • Use only soaps or solvents approved by your organization's Environmental Officer and DPW-ENRD
  • Do not dispose of oil, fuel, or any other hazardous substance into indoor drains or washrack drains. Washrack drains are equipped to handle oil residue from washing activities, and not large volumes of substances that are intentionally dumped into them.
  • Regularly monitor areas where vehicles, aircraft, or equipment are handled or stored to minimize fluid leaks and contaminant migration through stormwater. 
  • Use drip pans or absorbents if vehicles, aircraft, or equipment are known to leak or could create a potential spill situation. 
  • Store hazardous substances inside secondary containment and under overhead cover to avoid any problems from stormwater. Secondary containment is not necessary in the case of most used oil tanks on Fort Rucker because they are double-walled. Areas around used oil or fuel tanks should be monitored for spillage and cleaned up as necessary.
  • Be alert around open-grate storm drains which drain straight to the environment and do not pass through any type of filtering or treatment process, especially when handling hazardous substances nearby or when fueling or defueling. 
  • Clean away any leaves, limbs, trash, or other debris which may be clogging up your storm drains. A clogged drain will only cause trouble and it will not be able to drain water effectively from your housing or work area.
  • Have spill supplies nearby in the event of a spill, and know how to react if a spill occurs. A quick spill response action can often stop the spill before it migrates into drains or the environment. 
  • Call 911 after a spill if you are not sure of the danger or if you do not have the capability to react to the spill. The Fort Rucker Fire Department will respond first and will contact the DPW-ENRD for consulting as needed.

 

Contact Information

Wastewater Program Manager
(334) 255-1659
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