FIELD WATER SUPPLY
Section I. GENERAL
MEDICAL IMPORTANCE OF WATER
Water is probably the most important item of supply to a military force. 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.
Moreover, water that is unsafe to drink may be little better than none at all. Polluted
water may put entire units out of action.
a. Quantity of Water. The amount of water necessary for any given number of
persons varies. The season of the year, the geographical location, and the tactical
situation are factors that must be taken into consideration when estimating minimum
requirements. In a hot, dry climate, a man performing normal duty may require as much
as two to six gallons of water per day for drinking purposes. In a cooler climate,
however, he may require only one-half to one gallon per day for the same purpose.
Similarly, amounts required for cooking and for personal hygiene uses vary greatly. A
guide for planning to meet water requirements in a temperate climate is five gallons per
man per day for drinking and cooking. If showering facilities are to be made available,
the amount required will be at least 15 gallons per man per day.
b. Quality of Water. The quality of water is based upon its potability and its
(1) Potable. Potable water is water that is safe for human consumption. It
must be free from disease-producing organisms, excessive amounts of mineral and
organic matter, radioactive material, CBR agents, and poisonous substances.
(2) Palatable. Palatable water is water that is pleasing to the taste. To be
palatable, it should be relatively free from color, turbidity (cloudiness or muddiness),
taste, and odor. It should also be cool and well aerated. It is important to understand
that palatable water is not always potable nor is potable water always palatable.
(3) Contaminated. Water that is unfit for human consumption is said to be
contaminated. The water may contain sewage, garbage, disease-producing organisms,
excessive amounts of minerals or organic matter, toxic chemicals, radioactive materials,
or a combination of these. Contaminated water is not potable and is usually not
(4) Brackish. Brackish water contains a high level of minerals and dissolved
solids (over 500 ppm) and tastes salty.