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War Surgery and Medicine

Water Supplies

Water Supplies

Water supplies varied from area to area. In New Caledonia streams were numerous and water tanks with chlorination plants were established by the New Zealand Engineers. These were satisfactory and were continually supervised by field hygiene personnel.

In some of the forward areas, e.g., Vella Lavella, there were streams, but in many of the atolls no fresh water was available. In the Green Islands all fresh water, apart from that collected from rain showers, was obtained from American-operated sea-water distillation plants. In the Treasury Group surface wells were utilised which gave drinkable but scarcely palatable brackish water. This was treated through filtration and chlorination units.

Water was a problem in forward areas. Where an advance was made each man carried a limited supply in his water bottle which was scheduled to last for a certain time. Strict water discipline was required, but was often not observed. Many conserved their water and drank coconut milk instead, with resultant diarrhoea. Several units were equipped with Pack Set (Italian or German) field water filters. These were efficient, page 731 although the amount of water they could handle was limited. Others carried chlorination tablets, but here the taste factor often stopped their use. More permanent installations arrived later.