Volume 45 Number 5
Website of the Month: ROWPUs--A Part of the Battlefield that CNN Doesn’t Show
You can’t escape it. When you turn the TV on, it’s there. Open a newspaper and you’ll see it. Turn on the radio and it will be updated. It’s also discussed at school, the home, work and almost any other place where people gather. “It” just happens to be the war in Iraq. And now here it’s mentioned in this magazine, although most military action may have ended by the time you read this.
But let’s look at the war from an angle that perhaps you haven’t considered. Of course, if you’re an avid reader of this publication and possess an above average memory, you’ll recognize the fact that we ran an article about this topic in our May 2001 issue. The subject is ROWPUs, or reverse osmosis water purification units. We’ve selected three sites here as a re-introduction to the topic.
The company’s water purification units—which it claims have been available since World War II—were used in Operation Desert Storm/Persian Gulf War, provided clean water during a cholera epidemic in Rwanda, and aided flood victims in North Dakota.
Other nuggets of information culled from this site can be found among a rather extensive selection of main buttons to the left of the page. Under the “Military & Government” button, the text doesn’t shine much light on the unit or some of its nuances. Furthermore, the buttons underneath (Flash Evaporators, Pumps, Reverse Osmosis, and Heat Exchangers) aren’t very relevant and, in fact, sound repetitive at times.
Naturally, the site touts the company’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and its training programs with the Army and the Marine Corps. The company refers to it as the only training available for coastal water purification operations; collective task training on all aspects of water purification, storage, and distribution, and advanced military water purification system maintenance. What exactly does this mean? For one thing, the company offers ROWPU maintenance classes to other organizations (military and otherwise) for maintenance support personnel at all support levels.
Unfamiliar with the organization, I seek more information about Global Security. Apparently, it’s focused on various approaches to security challenges on a worldwide scale. The organization also seeks to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. And what does this have to do with water treatment in the battlefield? Plenty, as it turns out.
When scanning the home page, the urge for many visitors will be to directly click on the “Military” main button at the top left corner. Save yourself some trouble and scroll down to the search button and type in “rowpu.” If you do, you’re likely to come across 13 documents that relate to the water treatment device.
I click on the first item listed and am presented with a very thorough discussion of ROWPUs, which is very educational and not so self-promotional. For instance, I learn that sometimes ROWPUs have to be shut down during their 20-hour operating cycle to have filters cleaned or changed to keep the units operating efficiently. One factor imperative to the ROWPU’s performance is the actual location of the unit in relation to the source of water. It must be placed as close as possible to the water, no further than 75 feet away.
Ranking the ROWPU sites
EXTRA: ROWPU on film