Garrison town hall answers questions about recent water testing results

ANSBACH, Germany (Nov. 15, 2016) – U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach held a town hall today at Bismarck Theater concerning the recent water testing results taken from unoccupied housing at Katterbach and Bleidorn barracks.

Because the method of testing was meant for occupied housing units, the results from the unoccupied housing water samples showed high levels of lead, perhaps inaccurately.

As part of the operations order, the USAG Ansbach Directorate of Public Works tested 20 percent of government-owned Army Family Housing units. So as not to disturb occupied housing units, DPW performed the tests in unoccupied quarters.

The guidance for testing, as established by the operations order, is meant for occupied homes. In unoccupied homes, when water is left in the pipes as it is at the unoccupied locations, pollutants are likelier to leach into the water. Without flushing out the pipes, that water is likely to skew high in its lead readings. The housing units tested here had been vacant for an average of 12 months.

“Despite the expectation now that the testing methodology was flawed and that the results were high because of that, we are treating this as if we got a positive test for lead in our housing,” said Col. Benjamin Jones, USAG Ansbach commander, at the town hall. “We want to be as cautious as we can and ensure that everyone is going to be safe and that the drinking water is going to be safe.”

The garrison performs sampling of water on a routine basis, and, according to a statement released Friday following the high test results, Jones made clear that the Army “is absolutely committed to the health and safety of Soldiers, Family members, and the civilian and contractor workforce.”

As part of this commitment, the garrison team – in close coordination with U.S. Army Environmental Command, Regional Health Command Europe, and 12th Combat Aviation Brigade – has acted to ensure those in Army Family Housing have safe drinking water.

The garrison began distributing bottled water at the Katterbach Kaserne fire station, a location that is open 24/7. Furthermore, 12th CAB provided three potable water tanks – also called “water buffalos” – to potentially affected housing areas.

The garrison has also requested expedited testing from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The garrison retrieved 1,000 empty test bottles for testing the water, which they are making available to building coordinators and residents.

Residents and building coordinators wishing to perform tests of their water can pick up testing kits at the following:

Housing Office at Bismarck Kaserne
Room 9
7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
09802-83-3422

For further information about lead exposure, visit the following web pages:

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