Don Gallagher, a retired Rockwell Collins engineer, has asked the City Council to pay attention to the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s plans to install a geothermal heating system of the open-loop, “pump-and-dump” type at Kennedy High School.
In remarks at the public comment period at this week’s council meeting, Gallagher noted that the design of an open-loop system mines much water from the underlying aquifer, and in this instance, sends it, after running it through the heating system, into storm sewers and into McLoud Run.
Questions about these systems are now being debated in Cedar Rapids and Marion, and Gallagher pointed to an upcoming public meeting on April 17 at the Cedar Rapids school district’s Educational Services Center. Council member Brian Fagan told Gallagher that he planned to attend.
Gallagher, though, focused on the large sum of grant funds recently invested to protect McLoud Run so the trout stocked in the stream by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources can survive.
That spending for Iowa’s only urban trout stream amounted to about $760,000 in the last few years, with much of the focus of the spending designed to hold back rain water so it could be released more gradually into the stream. Quick changes in temperature kill trout, and rain in summer pounding off hot pavement is one of the things the spending for the stream had been intended to prevent.
This issue is part of the current debate on the open-loop geothermal system planned for Kennedy High School: Will the dumped water from the proposed system harm McLoud Run and defeat all the effort the federal government and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have put in to protect the stream?
The school district’s engineer has say no. But this is what Gallagher asked the City Council to pay attention to.
“You got a real gem there in McLoud Run,” he told the council.
Gallagher noted that this council and city manager have talked about the need to add amenities to the city like a RiverWalk to keep and attract young workers to the city.
He noted, too, that he recruited engineers to come to Cedar Rapids at one point in his career at Rockwell Collins. And most of those were young engineers, he added.
He called the urban trout stream and the trail running along it “exactly the kind of amenity” that those engineers are looking for and the city needs.
He argued, too, that any suggestion that the water dumped from the proposed Kennedy High School geothermal system will return to the aquifer is incorrect. It will go to McLoud Run, the Cedar River, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, he said.