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  MDH Offers Safe Drinking Water to Gulf Coast   

September 15, 2005 - The Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) is making the water safe to drink for Gulf Coast residents impacted by Hurricane Katrina, thanks to a state-of-the-art water treatment system developed by the Office of Naval Research. Only two units of its kind exist in the world.

With this special unit, health officials are able to convert Gulf Coast seawater directly to safe drinking water for consumption by residents. MDH, in conjunction with the United States Public Health Service, is responsible for daily water sample evaluation of the treatment unit and assessment of the unit operations.

The treatment unit, known as the Expeditionary Unit Water Purification (EUWP), which can provide 120,000 gallons of potable water per day, is located in Biloxi serving the Biloxi Regional Medical Center. The EUWP treatment unit was developed by the Office of Naval Research, the United States Army's Tank Automotive Research Development Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation.

" Mississippi is very fortunate to have a system like the EUWP unit in place because it ensures that our residents are getting the safest water possible for consumption after the hurricane," said MDH Engineer Administrator and Public Water Supply Director Keith Allen.

" This unit allows Biloxi Regional Medical Center to operate as a fully functional hospital," said Allen. "Biloxi

had significant damage and has had difficulty maintaining adequate water pressure in some areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to this unit, the hospital can function while their water system is being restored."
According to Allen, the primary mission for the treatment unit is for the hospital, but the feasibility of distributing some of the treated water to local residents is now being evaluated.

In the meantime, several other military water treatment units, known as Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units (ROWPU), are set up in various locations on the Gulf Coast and are capable of cleaning up contaminated water from public water systems that are currently under a boil water restriction. Each ROWPU can provide up to 600 gallons of potable water per hour.

Two ROWPUs are located in Waveland, Mississippi, at our shopping center located on the corner of Highway 90 and Waveland Avenue. Waveland residents can come to this location and fill up containers with clean and safe drinking water for free.

" Residents can use the water from the Waveland location for any purpose normally associated with their tap water such as drinking, cooking, bathing or washing clothes," said Allen.

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Health news and information 24 hours, 7 days: 1-866-HLTHY4U
Press Contact: Liz Sharlot or Kelly Shannon, (601) 576-7667

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