by Jazz Clark
Work is underway to restore functionality to the geothermal heating and cooling system at the Morgan County Courthouse.
Workers have been out in the Warm Springs Run working on the new intake grate and valve setup for the past week.
“Last week contractors were out here to clean up the grate which had become embedded with silt,” said Jody McClintock, County Administrator. “The blockage causes a dip in the water, which stirs up the water too much.”
To fix this, the contractors want to create an artificial creek-bed and install an outflow grate with smaller holes, she said.
Workers vacuumed out the current debris, and installed a stainless steel sheet over the bar grate that will block all debris larger than half an inch.
Once done, water should flow evenly and remove the potential for erosion of the creek bed.
The geothermal system normally uses the warm creek water flowing through the pipes at 500 gallons a minute to transfer natural heat to the heat pump. Water is then discharged back into the stream.
For environmental reasons, the water temperature inside the system is never changed more than one degree.
In the dry summer months, the system probably won’t work, said McClintock. It’s designed so that the system won’t take water when there is a possibility it would dry the creek bed.
Manhole access was built before the courthouse was even constructed. Actual pipes for the water system were erected during the building of the structure, said McClintock.
The County Commission is relieved the budget won’t be affected by the repair work being performed on the system.
“The architect in charge told the commission it won’t cost the county anything to restore the system,” Commission President Stacy Dugan said. “I’m glad to see the work is finally getting done and it will start benefiting the courthouse employees soon.”
Officials received a $225,000 federal grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of said geothermal system during the courthouse project.
Officials said there is no word yet on when the system will be fully functional, though tests have been run.