Public Health Center provides Drinking Water Course for Far East Region

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mar’Queon A. D. Tramble
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mar’Queon A. D. Tramble

Public Health Center provides Drinking Water Course for Far East Region

by Hugh Cox
Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) hosted a drinking water course for Navy and Marine Corps representatives from the Far East Region at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Okinawa April 18-21.

The Navy Medicine course is offered annually and focuses on Department of Defense (DoD) policy, basic water science, treatment, sampling, understanding Legionella, Lead issues, public notifications, introduction into risk communication, and a host of other water related topics. The workshop also includes group exercises that put daily learning into action using real-life scenarios.

Mr. Anthony Carotenuto, NMCPHC Preventive Medicine, Environmental Health Programs is a founding member of the Water Quality Oversight Council (WQOC) Staff. The WQOC was created following the Chief of Naval Operation’s (CNO’s) mandate that drinking water overseas meets or exceeds standards from the United States. According to Carotenuto, installation drinking water is one of the most essential operational commodities produced. “Water is a basic need that many take for granted,” said Carotenuto. “Water touches everyone, every day. This worldwide training program increases and updates the knowledge of drinking water safety and the communication needed between Public Works, Public Health, and the public is essential to ensuring force health protection. Even the slightest program shortfall can be significant to health and the cause of lack of confidence to those we serve. If our fighting force is worried about their families we have degraded abilities to fight. We must maintain trust and credibility, to go above and beyond ensuring this basic necessity is safe.”

Attendees were comprised of active duty military and government civilians with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and education levels. Participants came from around the region including the Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC), Naval Facilities (NAVFAC) Japan, NMRTC Okinawa, Marine Corps Facilities Okinawa, NMRTC Yokosuka, NMRTC Atsugi, NMRTC Sasebo, and Seabee Unit NAVFAC Okinawa.

Carotenuto led the training team that included Mr. Richard Theiss PE, of AH Environmental Consultants. These instructors specialize in providing drinking water advice, consultation, policy, and training with a combined Navy and civilian experiences of several decades.

Theiss expressed his delight over the fact that the class size and composition had expanded over the last few sessions from only medical to now having key water operators and water programs managers from NAVFAC and Marine Corps Installation Command (MCICOM) in the class.
“The more we incorporate the entire installation water teams in these courses the more cooperation and communication will occur in the real world making the production of safe water for our military personal better," said Theiss. “This course did a great job in teaching these skills and building on them by practicing in many different scenarios any of us would encounter.”

"Keeping the trust of those that serve is part of the Navy’s Core Values," said Carotenuto. "People want to know their water is safe. We know that providing basic training and keeping those involved with ensuring safe water updated on water science is not a nice to have training but is vital to health, the Navy reputation, and saves healthcare dollars in the long term.”

Department of Navy (DON) personnel want to know that leadership cares and is not taking the safe water supply lightly. Water supplied to their families is not an issue they should worry about. This training is just one way to make sure drinking water always remains safe no matter where they may be stationed around the globe.

The training was well received by attendees, including Mr. Daniel O’Connell, Backflow Prevention Program Manager, NAVFAC Far East Public Works (PW5). “It was extremely helpful to learn about all the terms that I hear during the sanitary surveys,” said O’Connell. “In addition, the group was just awesome to be around.”

“I was familiar with many of the concepts taught throughout the course,” said Lt. William Gordon, an environmental health officer and medical planner with the III MEF Surgeon’s Office. “However, many of the policies and regulatory guidance have changes after three operational duty stations in a row. This class was a great way to get back into the drinking water PMA game."

Builder 1st Class Charles Ferguson, pointed out during the class how important relationships between public works and medical is when dealing with water. He recommended that more Seabees attend this course to broaden their horizon to not just think field water because installation water is much different. “I'm in a weird position here,” said Ferguson. “I have always done a vertical and horizontal construction for 18 years. Then when I get to Okinawa I’m part of the plumbing side. That might be why I’m still mind blown about the water world.”

Hospital Corpsman Seaman Skye Watters, stated during the class that as a new Preventive Medicine Technician (PMT) she is glad she is learning these skills and through the group role-playing exercises and real-world scenarios early in her career.

Ms. Kristen Bass, CNIC, Water Program Manager summed it up nicely. "Our goal is to build a network drinking water experts who can daily ensure the production, and distribution of drinking water from source to tap is expertly done and monitored,” said Bass. “To give our customers confidence that the drinking water they use is safe for them and their families no matter where they may be stationed in the world. This will help build and maintain trust and credibility, resolve conflict, and ensure the long-term success of our Navy organizational goals."

This course is being offered by NMCPHC four times per years in various locations worldwide. For more information contact NMCPHC at

More information and products, services and downloads are available at the NMCPHC Webpage.

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) develops and shapes public health for the U.S. Navy and Marines Corps through health surveillance, epidemiology and analysis, disease and injury prevention, and public health consultation. Learn more by going to Follow NMCPHC on social media at FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Photo Caption:
A Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command contractor tests water samples from a granular activated carbon filter as a part of real-time monitoring at Red Hill Well. The U.S. Navy continues to work with federal, state and local organizations to support families and residents, conduct long-term monitoring of the Navy water system, and work toward remediating Red Hill Well and the surrounding area. For detailed information, go to:

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