Broken geothermal system getting fixed
by Jazz Clark
Action is finally being taken on the non-functional geothermal system that has laid dormant under the Morgan County Courthouse for over two years.
The geothermal system is supposed to save energy by using warmth from nearby Warm Springs Run and within the earth to air condition the courthouse.
While the courthouse was the first government building in West Virginia to have a geothermal system, the geothermal portion ran less than two days before shutting down in Spring 2011.
Since then, electric-fueled heating and cooling units installed parallel to the geo-thermal pump have served the building.
The Morgan County Commission recently gave an ultimatum to contractor Milestone Construction, who did the installation: respond and acknowledge the broken system, or a different route will be found to repair it without them.
“The geothermal system has never been truly functional, and the company that received payment owes it to the taxpayers,” said Commissioner Stacy Dugan. “It’s unacceptable that we have been waiting two years on this.”
As of the January 10 deadline, Milestone had not reached a decision. The funds for repair will be deducted from the contractor’s retainer fee, said County Administrator Jody McClintock.
“We won’t know anything until the pump is taken out of there,” McClintock said. “We’re in the dark.”
The 450-pound, 20-horsepower pump is tentatively scheduled to be taken out of the ground on January 30 by contractor Easterday Well & Pump of Mt. Airy, Md.
“This is not a fly-by-night company,” said Facilities Director Vince Cichocki. “This is an established company with a lot of knowledge in the field.”
Easterday will bring in an underwater camera so they can see the situation in the run. They can manufacture whatever attachment they need on-site to pull the pump out.
The pump is submerged on a system of rails for easy removal, but the airline-strength retrieval cable which usually ships with pumps of this type is not visible.
“The cable was either not installed by the contractor, or less likely pulled into the system, causing the malfunction,” Cichocki said.
Once out, Cichocki plans on repairing the pump himself. If he can’t, the pump will be sent to V-Systems in Pittsburgh for reassembly.
Extraction should be completed by the end of that day.
Architect Silling & Associates helped outline the issues in a letter asking for action from the contractor.
Problems such as rocks in the intake system and ways to avoid damage to the run from rushing water have plagued the system in recent years.