top of page

Issues USA: Military Bases

Brief: Camp Lejeune

by Emily Bremer

Camp Lejeune.pdf (PDF — 103 KB)


Net Zero

By Jason Zheng

“Water is the new oil” was coined by Maureen Sullivan, the director of environment, safety and occupational health in the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD can be ranked as a country, if it was one, internationally based on their usage of energy, water, and fuels. Environmental protestors in the United States are engaging into practices of conserving water that would allow endangered species to thrive, however their common enemy is military bases. The first conflict of water scarcity is the Fort Huachuca base, located in Arizona.

In response to the environmental protests, the Department of Defense, the Army developed a program called “Net Zero” which is broken down into three programs—Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Water, and Net Zero Waste. The Army has piloted five installation of all these three programs, hoping to have 25 Net Zero installed by the year of 2030. The main focus will be on Net Zero Water, however the other can be found here on the Army website.

Net Zero Water aimed to limit the consumption of freshwater and returning to its watershed to prevent depletion. Such methods can be possible by harvesting rain water and recycling discharge water. As well the process of desalination can be utilized to undrinkable water to fresh water. Grey water that are generated from sources of showers, sink, and laundries and also wastewater can all be treated and recycled for other uses.

The Net Zero program is indeed the solution of conserving water, energy and waste. The program establishes smaller satellite organization in military bases that oversees that particular location. Rather than tackling the problem as a whole nation, Net Zero breaks it down to each individual state so there would be a better focus in one area respectively.

The Net Zero Hierarchy infographic gives a great accountability on how the Army plans to take program to create a better environmental friendly society.

Water Scarcity: Military Bases

by Brigitte Keen

It is arguably the world’s most precious resource, and yet it has been considered one of the most “overlooked” issues facing the Department of Defense (DoD). Clean water, and the ability to access it are key elements in combat and daily survival.

Experts in the field have referred to water as “the new oil.” With more limitations on distribution of water amongst installations, access to clean water is predicted to be a paramount issue in the coming years. Military bases and installations around the country have already made cuts in water use due to the swell of populations, and repercussions of climate change. Water rationed by the DoD has been cut from 111 billion to 90 billion gallons allotted per year from 2007-’12. To help visually, the equivalent to 90 billion gallons of water is the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls in a 14-day period. This water has been supplied to 1.1 million families, who have had to limit water use in their everyday lives, i.e. showering, laundering, dishwashing, and landscaping. This has been a predominantly substantial issue in the American Southwest, where in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, landscaping water-use has been limited two hours a day, two days a week, only two months out of the year. Cuts in water distribution have not only been implemented to save potable water, but energy as well. Joseph Sikes, director of facilities energy and privatization at the DoD says that fuel is needed in order to transport water and personnel to designated facilities. In addition, “If you are wasting water, you are wasting energy.”

The military appears to be approaching this issue with thoughtfulness for the future. This conscientious attitude comes from the recognition that “water is a finite resource” and that they must plan for inevitable shortages to come. Preparations for this certain condition include but are not limited to installing water-efficient fixtures, training service members and civilians on conservation methods, and conducting further research on “gray water”, or recycled water. These changes do not only call for a more sustainable water economy, but for a more congenial community surrounding installations. If the military siphoned all the water from a local reservoir leaving the community dry, this could lead to tensions in the community and potential legal disputes.

In closing, water conservation projects are both complicated and expensive. The DoD has not yet come up with a budget for water scarcity because of these difficulties. Each state has unique laws and regulations regarding water use rendering a need for an intricate planning and implementation process.

Military Bases Contaminating Water Sources

by Courtney Johnston

           There are many places around the nation that involve water contamination, with most of these being mostly factories or companies. However, one place that people would not think of when it comes to contaminating water would be military bases. This is true for the Department of Defense (DoD). There have been many complaints about the department saying that they are contaminating water sources that are used for drinking across the nation (Bennet, et al., 2017). The chemicals that are being leaked into groundwater and wells are called per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and they are found in firefighting foams that the military uses at bases and at airports (Bennet, et al., 2017). “While the health effects of these chemicals are still being determined, studies have linked PFAS exposure to developmental damage, certain cancers, and immune system dysfunction” (Bennet, et al., 2017). This is extremely dangerous for the residents near these bases because they obtain their drinking water from these underground wells. Senators are writing to the Senate Appropriations Committee saying that the DoD needs to “eliminate the current use of this generation of contaminants, which would reduce the cost of future remediation efforts, and to research firefighting alternative the do not contain PFAS” (Bennet, et al., 2017).

Another chemical hazard that has been contaminating water sources are at the Stewart Air National Guard Base with the chemical perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which also helps with firefighting (Maloney, 2017). This chemical is linked to birth defects and certain cancers (Maloney, 2017). Senators are urging the military to put in water infiltration systems to help reduce or eliminate the chemicals altogether (Maloney, 2017). They are also saying that the nearby residents should not have to pay for the consequences of this problem and that the military needs to pay for the cleanup (Schumer, 2017). The bill will help the nearby residents, as well as eliminate environmental health hazards.


Bennet, M., Cantwell, M., Hassan, M., Cassey, B., Murray, P., Gillibrand, K. (Sep 5,

2017). Murray, Cantwell, and Colleagues push for resources to address water contamination near military bases. Congressional Documents and Publication. Retrieved from

Maloney, P. (Jan 19, 2017). Schumer, Gillibrand, and Maloney urge U.S. Department of

Defense to immediately install filtration units at Stewart Air National Guard Base Contamination hot spots to halt spread of PFAS-tainted water. Congressional Documents and Publications. Retrieved from

Schumer, C. E. (Feb 21, 2017). Schumer slams Air Force and Air National Guard for not

including recreation pond in PFOS-contamination survey and clean-up plan: Senator says failure to include all impacted waterways is a “dereliction of duty” – demands immediate attention from top brass. Congressional Documents and Publications. Retrieved from

bottom of page