Regional district directors heard last week explaining how 4.7 million litres of well water was discharged from Nanoose Fire Hall in a six-week period in late 2012 by a system intended to reduce the hall’s carbon footprint.
“It is estimated that actual flows exceeded design flows by a factor of 10,” RDN general manager of regional and community utilities Randy Alexander states in a report to the board, a copy of which was obtained by The NEWS.
The report explains: “the groundwater heat-pump system (recommended by Johnstone Davidson Architecture in 2010) exchanges heat with untreated groundwater. The untreated groundwater is circulated through the heat pump system, and returned to the ground through surface drainage (a bio-swale, i.e. infiltration basin). Ground water is not consumed in the process; it is returned back to the ground after heat exchange.”
According to the report, the groundwater heat-pump system was intended to “achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption, operating costs and greenhouse gas production when compared to natural gas boiler systems.”
But that wasn’t the case. Alexander confirmed in an interview with The NEWS the fire hall discharged an average of 117,840 litres of water per day from Nov. 7 to Dec. 17, 2012, though it was projected to use roughly 9,000 litres per day.
While the flow rates were much higher than anticipated, the report said “it is estimated that the majority of the water circulated through the system during commissioning returned to ground through the bio-swale and surrounding surface drainage.”
Additionally, the report said at the end of the 45-day commissioning period the groundwater heat-pump system was suspended and a back up gas fired boiler has since been used to heat the facility.
RDN director George Holme, who represents Nanoose Bay, was not available for comment on the report by press time. He told The NEWS last week he was not informed of the incident until more than a year after it happened.
The report did not indicate why RDN staff did not share the information about the incident with the public or their elected representatives.
Currently, RDN staff are working with the architect, their design engineer and an independent consultant to address the inefficiencies.
The report said staff is now finalizing a review which will be forwarded to the board for consideration.