MEDICAL ASPECTS OF WATER SUPPLY
Section I. INTRODUCTION
a. People--like all other living things--cannot live without water. An adequate
supply of water is essential to the success of any military operation. During times of
extreme heat, lack of water can put a soldier out of action within a day. However, an
adequate supply of water in itself is not sufficient to sustain a military force. The water
must be safe for human consumption; otherwise, the results may be disastrous. We
who are raised in the relatively sanitary environment of the US tend to take our
water supplies and their potability for granted. However, when we find ourselves in
a field environment--particularly overseas--this attitude of complacency must change.
All water must be considered suspect until proven safe.
b. American cities, as well as US military installations, rarely experience any
problems with water potability. Water supplies come from approved sources, are
treated according to public health standards, and are closely monitored. A public utility
company normally operates the city water distribution system under the supervision of
technically qualified engineers and sanitarians. On a military installation, the Director of
Facilities and Engineering (DFAE) and his staff perform the same function. Under field
conditions, however, a situation is much different. The best water source may be of
questionable quality. Although the water may be properly treated, it is often necessary
to transfer it from one container to another several times before it is consumed, thereby
introducing the possibility of recontamination. The Quarter Master Corps and the
AMEDD can no longer exercise the same degree of control as in garrison. Accordingly,
water becomes everyone's problem.
a. Commander. Basically, as in all other military matters, the commander is
responsible for ensuring that his troops have an adequate supply of safe water at all
times. In practice, the commander delegates the tasks of water procurement,
treatment, storage, surveillance, transportation, and distribution to his staff officers;
however, he always retains the ultimate responsibility for the performance of these
tasks. In addition, he is responsible for enforcing, through the chain of command, strict
water discipline. Water discipline is based on the following rules:
(1) Drink water only if it is from an approved source or has been purified
according to accepted procedures.