Turf Field Compatible with Existing Geothermal Wells, Board of Education Assured


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LYME-OLD LYME — 250 geothermal wells located six feet beneath the proposed site for Lyme-Old Lyme’s artificial turf field would not pose a threat to the project, according to the Connecticut Geothermal Association.

“Typically, geothermal wells never have to be accessed. There is nothing mechanical in the well, just pipe,” said Guy Wanegar, the president at A&B Cooling and Heating Corporation. “On a big system like that, wells would all be connected to a vault. You do need to get to the vault occasionally, so as long as that isn’t under the field you should be okay.”

Superintendent Ian Neviaser said the wells were one of the first questions that came up when the turf field project was first proposed two years ago.

“It was one of our very first questions and we felt at ease with the answers we got,” Neviaser said. “We were told that most times when the geothermal well fails they don’t do anything. One or two failing doesn’t impact the system, so they just leave it.”

At Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting, concerns over the impact to the geothermal wells – and the turf field once it’s installed – were raised both by board members and members of the public.

Responding to these concerns, Kevin Fuselier, a consultant with the Cheshire-based civil engineering firm Milone & MacBroom, assured attendees at the meeting that any contractor hired to construct the field would design around the geothermal wells if necessary.

“The deepest we go for the field is three feet down. The contractors are going to know where special measures need to be taken,” Fuselier said. “We will want to know the system is running perfectly before starting construction and keep testing it to make sure there is nothing compromising along the way. A crack in the pipe can be a big deal.”

Board members urged Fuselier to make sure the design and location are fully evaluated.

“We want to know it’s not a feasible location early on,” said board member Suzanne Thompson. “It could be not the right place for that reason.”

If worse came to worst, Neviaser said, the turf carpet could be cut, the wells could be accessed and then the turf repaired.

Wanegar, however, said there is no cause for concern.

“It shouldn’t be problematic at all,” Wanegar said. “The piping in the well has a warranty of 55 years, but plastic in the ground typically lasts much longer than that.”