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Fairfield well ordinance progresses

Richard Fulton

(12/9) The Fairfield Borough Planning Commission continued to work at their December 9 meeting on a draft ordinance to regulate geothermal installations and other aspects of well use.

The draft could proceed to council for consideration for adoption if the draft wrapped-up by the commission at their December 9 meeting is approved by the borough staff and the solicitor.

While the borough has not had a well ordinance, the county Office of Planning and Development recommended that all municipalities should adopt one, based on a draft ordinance the county produced in March at the direction of the state.

Although most new construction in Fairfield Borough would almost certainly connect to public water (thus not needing a well), there is nothing "on the books" which would prevent a property owner from establishing an open-loop geothermal system which does discharge to wells or other water bodies.

Thus, one of the proposed regulations concerning geothermal in Fairfield’s draft ordinance prohibits the installation of open-loop geothermal systems, while authorizing closed-loop geothermal systems.

Geothermal systems use heat pumps to tap into subsurface heat naturally generated underground for heating, and provide a means of discharging heat into the ground for cooling.

Basically, the primary difference between open-loop systems and closed-loop systems is that open-loop systems discharge used water back into the environment, directly or through disposal wells, while the water employed in a closed-loop system is recycled within the system and never discharged into the environment.

The planning commission voted at the December 9 meeting to send the draft ordinance to Land & Sea Services, LLC, who act as the borough’s zoning authority, and to the borough Solicitor Matthew Battersby.

If Land & Sea and the solicitor can find no further issues with the draft, the draft ordinance can then proceed to the borough Council for possible adoption.

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