4.7 million litres of water wasted at Nanoose Bay Fire Hall

Facility consumed daily average of 118,000 litres; it happened in late 2012 but regional district director only learned of it two weeks ago

The Regional District of Nanaimo is “looking for answers” as to how a $45,000 geothermal heat pump system at the Nanoose Fire Hall discharged 4.7 million litres of well water in less than six weeks.

From Nov. 7 to Dec. 17, 2012, the Nanoose Fire Hall consumed an average of 117,840 litres of water per day, confirmed Randy Alexander, the RDN’s general manager of regional and community utilities.

According to the RDN’s 2013 Water Conservation Plan, an average Nanoose Bay household consumes 458 litres per day.

“The original intent was to reduce greenhouse gas production and save energy,” said Alexander, who added the system was shut down in early 2013 shortly after the inefficiencies came to light and the building is now being heated by a backup gas boiler.

“Certainly, this isn’t acceptable and we are looking for answers,” said Alexander, adding RDN staff is working with Johnstone Davidson Architecture (the company who designed Nanoose Fire Hall) as well as third-party engineers to find out what went wrong.

RDN director George Holme, who represents Nanoose Bay, said he was “disappointed” to hear about the water inefficiencies, especially given that water is a “sensitive” issue in the area.

“Somebody isn’t coming through,” said Holme, noting that he was only made aware of the issue a few weeks ago. “You hire engineers to best advise you on what to do — they’re supposed to be the experts.”

Holme said the fire hall’s system is being looked into by staff at the RDN.

NVFD fire chief Doug Penny declined to comment on the issue, directing NEWS questions to the RDN.

According to Alexander, RDN staff is looking for options to get the system working the way it was intended to in the first place — with environmental sustainability in mind.

“We have been working on this since we shut the system down (in early 2013),” said Alexander. “We wanted to operate the system for one season to see what the energy demands were.”

Alexander said more answers will likely come to light in the coming weeks.

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