Geothermal system may not heat courthouse this winter
Problems with rocks in the intake pipe and challenges designing an outflow system that won’t damage the bottom of Warm Springs Run will likely mean that the Morgan County courthouse won’t be heated by the building’s geothermal system this winter.
County Administrator Jody McClintock said she doubts that modifications to the system will be done in time to harness the thermal power of Warm Springs Run during the coming season.
GAI Consultants are advising the county about the work required to restore the geothermal system to its full function.
Right now, rocks stuck in the intake port are keeping water from the run from being pulled into the system. The rocks likely got lodged there by high water after heavy local rains.
The rock-filled grate needs to be removed and cleaned, and a new grate designed, said McClintock. She thinks the new grate will have smaller holes, so rocks won’t be caught there.
Another item to be added to the system is a “metal energy dissipation structure” – some kind of metal plate that will absorb the force of water pouring out of the system and into Warm Springs Run.
Without it, the force of the outflow can wear away the bed of the stream and create a pool at one spot.
McClintock said GAI Consultants will provide the county with specifications on both items, then county officials will ask for cost proposals before planning the work.
McClintock doubted the work would be done in time for heating season.
Morgan County has the only courthouse equipped with a geothermal heating and cooling system in the state.
“It’s definitely been a learning process for all of us,” said McClintock.