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NSA Wins 2019 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Innovative East Campus Reclaimed Water Project

By Jennifer Bowman NSA

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Pumping station
The Howard County pumping station, located in Howard County Maryland, has the capacity to pump 5 million gallons of reclaimed water to NSA’s East Campus on a daily basis.
Pumping station
Completed Water Pumping Station
The Howard County pumping station, located in Howard County Maryland, has the capacity to pump 5 million gallons of reclaimed water to NSA’s East Campus on a daily basis.
Photo By: NSA
VIRIN: 190422-D-IM742-2001
The NSA’s East Campus Water Reclamation Team has been recognized as a winner of the 2019 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award. The team’s achievement highlights its innovative use of reclaimed water as an environmentally and economically sustainable method for delivering cooling water to the first phase of the Agency’s East Campus (EC). The project yielded a solution to the one of the largest water cooling demands of any campus within the Intelligence Community (IC). Additionally, this is the most extensive plan for industrial use of reclaimed water in the state of Maryland.

Following a wide-ranging effort to identify the best source of non-potable water, the team partnered with Howard County and developed a plan to treat and draw discharged water from the Howard County Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant in Savage, MD. The final result was construction of a 5 million gallon per day (MGD) capacity pumping station, 1.5 miles of transmission main water line, and a 1 million gallon storage tank. This new system will provide cooling support for critical IT infrastructure that is vital to our national security, including high-performance computer systems as well as their human counterparts.

Water storage tank
The one million gallon storage tank, located on NSA’s main campus, is used to store reclaimed water for cooling the facilities and infrastructure on the East Campus.
Water storage tank
Completed water storage tank
The one million gallon storage tank, located on NSA’s main campus, is used to store reclaimed water for cooling the facilities and infrastructure on the East Campus.
Photo By: NSA
VIRIN: 190422-D-IM742-2002
During the planning phase, the team’s main considerations were environmental sustainment, high water quality, independent sourcing, and good economics. At more than 2 MGD – equivalent to filling 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools – the system will satiate the EC’s first phase cooling needs and save the Agency 87 percent on its water utility bill. The environmental impact was of equal importance, and the use of reclaimed water eliminates the need to drill new wells or tap local aquifers to support the center’s cooling needs.

Eventually, the Agency plans for all of its Fort Meade facilities to operate on reclaimed water which will save 4 MGD of water from being siphoned out of critical ground aquifer systems. NSA has been a proud steward of the environment for nearly 25 years and this project and partnership continues that tradition. The EC team has shared lessons learned with other members of the Department of Defense so other entities can execute projects of similar scale and complexity. 

Chilled water pipes
The chilled water distribution system located in the high performance computing center.
Chilled water pipes
Chilled water pipes
The chilled water distribution system located in the high performance computing center.
Photo By: NSA
VIRIN: 190422-D-IM742-2003
The EC program efforts include the planning, design, and construction of a 4 million square foot green building complex on 240 acres. The compound will eventually house an Integrated Cyber Center, NSA signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations building, Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command building, and a high performance computing center. This partnership has proven instrumental in providing our Nation with an unmatched ability to conduct SIGINT and cyber operations. Congratulations to the EC team and all partners involved in this successful endeavor.