Federal Manager's Daily Report

Some critical military installations face water scarcity challenges, GAO has said, and risks are only going to get worse.

DoD uses about 84 billion gallons a year in a multitude of ways such as for personal hygiene, laundry, recreation and even to “operate missions such as rocket launches for cooling and for noise and fire suppression, to maintain temperatures to properly store equipment such as parachutes, and for firefighting training,” and so on.

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However, the department is inconsistent in how it evaluates potential shortages, GAO found. Auditors reviewed three studies performed at the DoD department level and three others performed by military services and found that of the 102 facilities identified as potentially at risk in total, only 42 were identified in more than one study, and only one—Vandenberg AFB in California—was identified in each.

That raises questions “about their quality and about which source of information DoD is using to determine which installations are vulnerable to water scarcity.”

Officials told GAO that they considered the department level studies to be the most reliable but the GAO said that those studies did not reflect four of five leading practices for identifying and analyzing water scarcity. Until the department either incorporates those practices into department-wide assessments or relies on the assessments by the military services, it “will not have assurance that it is using reliable information to assess water scarcity.”