111th ATKW hosts environmental advisory board, features new water treatment plant on base tour

  • Published
  • By Jon Dahms
  • 111th Attack Wing

The 111th Attack Wing hosted 27 members of the Willow Grove Air Base Restoration Advisory Board here, for a tour of the base to review progress in improving the quality of base drinking water and groundwater/stormwater run-off Oct. 28, 2021.

The Willow Grove RAB was established in 2015 and meets quarterly to address community concerns and environmental issues regarding the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB) Willow Grove and the former Air Force Reserve Station (ARS) Willow Grove. The visitors included local residents; representatives from local, state and federal government; and civic/business leaders in the community.

“We’ve been discussing this visit for the last year or so based on the desire for RAB members to visit the base to see the various sites discussed during our meetings, but it was delayed due to COVID-19,” said Mr. Lee dePersia, Environmental Engineer with the 111th ATKW’s Civil Engineering Squadron. “It was great to finally be able to arrange the visit and to review progress on our water treatment systems.”

The tour included visits to various monitoring sites for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the groundwater, a new water treatment plant constructed for the base in 2017, and the new large-capacity surface water treatment system, which went into operation Aug. 17, 2021. This treatment system was constructed through a cooperative agreement with Warminster Township.

“I think the highlight of the tour was the new surface water treatment system that just went into operation,” dePersia said. “It addresses a key issue for the base and the local community regarding PFAS at an outfall from the base.”

For nearly a decade, the 111th ATKW has been working closely with local communities, Navy, Air National Guard (ANG) and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to address drinking water quality, and storm water run-off from Biddle Air National Guard Base, and remains committed to this combined effort.

“One of our top command priorities is our partnerships,” said Col. Rebecca A. Gray, Vice Commander of the 111th ATKW, the host for the tour. “We take our environmental compliance responsibilities seriously and will continue to work with our community partners on this issue. We are committed to open and transparent communication. It was a privilege for us to host this visit and we will continue our ongoing support to the RAB.”

The next quarterly meeting for the Willow Grove Air Base RAB is scheduled virtually for Dec. 8, 2021 at 6 p.m.

“We look forward to hosting the RAB on another visit soon,” Gray said. “We will be scheduling another opportunity for the group to return to Biddle Air National Guard Base for a tour of our attack and support operations as well as our cyber operations.”