The current drought situation in Wichita Falls has many residents concerned about how our water challenges will affect Sheppard Air Force Base.

Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham and SAFB Commander General Scott Kindsvater addressed the question in a joint editorial recently that was posted to the City's Facebook page:

Wichita Falls, the communities of North Texas and Sheppard Air Force Base have been growing together since 1941. This close relationship often means that whatever affects the community affects the base and vice-versa. The drought is no exception. Sheppard is committed to a future of working with the community as we tackle this ongoing issue together.

This op-ed is to make sure our community knows there are no plans to relocate Sheppard Air Force Base. The base and the community have worked together to solve problems and weather challenges for almost 75 years and we’ll work through this too.

In 2010 Sheppard Air Force Base began to reduce water usage and find creative conservation methods. When the city asked wholesale water customers to reduce consumption by 35 percent, the base was the first to meet the target. Sheppard has continued to reduce usage through conservation education, installing special fixtures on sinks and toilets, cutting back and ultimately eliminating grounds watering and many other measures.

Just this week Sheppard and the city began planning a project to return about 400,000 gallons per day of “gray water” back to the city so it can be retained as part of the city’s water reuse project when it becomes operational.

Sheppard is also being proactive. The base leaders are already planning ways to continue the vital training missions should the drought continue to worsen — we will continue to work with the city to make sure the training missions will proceed unimpeded.

Sheppard Air Force Base has a strong foundation of heritage, infrastructure, partnerships, airspace, training ranges and trust that join us at the hip with North Texas.

For example, the 80th Flying Training Wing has 200 aircraft and all the maintenance, logistics, fuel, infrastructure, equipment and facilities needed to support them. Sheppard is one of the busiest airfields in the Air Force and there is no other base with the capacity and air space to integrate the scale and nature of the 80th’s flying mission.

In addition to the flying at Sheppard, the bulk of the personnel belong to the 82nd Training Wing and its technical training mission. The 82nd actually accounts for about 80-90 percent of the base’s employees and students. The wing is responsible for teaching more than 900 different courses, feeding and housing at least 5,000 students worldwide and managing more than $2 billion worth of training devices including 90 full-size aircraft of its own. Sheppard provides maintenance training for every aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

Sheppard is committed to work through the current drought situation challenge as true partners with Wichita Falls and surrounding communities just like we have in the past and just like we will do in the future.

-Wichita Falls Mayor Glen Barham
-SAFB Commander General Scott Kindsvater