NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The Southwest Incident Management Team has teamed up with a company called WaterFleet to recycle and reuse water while fighting the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon Fire. They hope this will reduce the use of water from sources in the Pecos area.
“We have the ability to process non-potable water into potable water. And we also have the ability to take wastewater, whether that be gray or black, and process that back into a reusable water,” said Wesley Higgins with WaterFleet.
The water can be used for dust suppression and to fight the fire itself. Firefighters use it for drinking water, showering, cleaning, and even ice. The water recycling system has been used at disaster sites before but this is the first time it is being used at a wildland fire.
“It can produce about a thousand pounds of ice daily in addition to the sanitizing services for the disposable water jugs that we’ve been using. It saves a ton of personnel hours building these disposable units and really cuts down on our waste for the incident,” said Shawn Foster the Southwest IMT’s Logistics Section Chief.
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The process removes the need to haul potable water to the site. It also eases the burden on the local water supply. “It is a game-changer for us down here as we’re concerned about impacting the village of Pecos,” said Foster.
This could change the way crews use water at wildfires around the state. With fires like the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon, there can be hundreds of firefighters operating out of a single base camp. The system could produce 12,000 to 16,000 gallons of water a day at the base camp which is equivalent to that of what fifty families use a day.