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Conservation Efforts at Catawba College

August 20, 2009

Category: Alumni, Environmental Science

Fountain Turned PlanterConservation efforts are on the minds of Catawba College administrators as the institution begins a new academic year. Two recent projects on campus are indicative of the new emphasis.

A Fountain No More
For years, the fountain installed on Stanback Plaza in front of the Cannon Student Center was a source of fun and pranks for students and a source of problems for the College Facilities Department.

Students would often throw litter and trash into the 6,000-gallon fountain, or add detergent to the water creating both bubbles and problems. Several times during a normal academic year, the Facilities Department was forced to drain, clean and refill the fountain.

Now the fountain is a fountain no more; it is a planter.

Thanks to the efforts of Catawba Alumnus Bill Godley '76 of Godley's Garden Center, in early August, the fountain was converted to its alternative use as a planter. Water, which in recent years has become a coveted commodity in the state, can now be conserved and sparingly used to maintain the native species plantings in the planter.

It's a Geothermal Well, and It's Also a New Way to Fill a Swimming Pool
This summer, the Catawba Facilities Department faced the task of installing a new anti-entrapment drain into the bottom of the college's heated, 210,000-gallon swimming pool. That meant all of the water had to be removed from the pool before the new drain could be installed, and then the pool refilled with water which had to be reheated after the repair was made.

Geothermal Water Diverted to Fill PoolThe members of the Facilities Department put on their thinking caps and came up with a novel idea. They decided to use water being recirculated in the geothermal well system on campus to refill the pool. It would allow them to avoid paying for city water to fill the pool and since that geothermal water would arrive from the well at a warm, 82 degrees, it would also eliminate most of the anticipated heating costs.

With surgical precision, Facilities Department staff members cut into the geothermal loop and temporarily diverted water from one of the wellheads into a hose that ran straight into the empty pool, located on the lower level of the Abernethy Physical Education Center. In less than two days, the pool was refilled with geothermal well water and close to $2,500 was saved by refilling the pool in this manner.

"We simply used a resource available to us on campus to save some money," Director of Facilities Henry Haywood explained.

Tapping into the geothermal system for conservation efforts is not a new idea for the Catawba. Two years ago with a monetary contribution from Catawba Trustee Jim Hurley, the college purchased a 20,000 gallon storage tank and placed it underground near the Mariam and Robert Hayes Field House with a pumphouse installed on top of it. Runoff water from the geothermal system that heats and cools the field house keeps the tank full and provides water to irrigate all of Catawba's 30 acres of athletic fields. Thanks to the tank, pumphouse and using the runoff water from the geothermal system, the college saves tens of thousands of dollars each year by not purchasing water to irrigate its athletic fields from the City of Salisbury.
Catawba RecyclesDr. Craig Turner, Catawba College President, willingly shared his take on the most recent conservation projects on campus. "Catawba College has long been interested in the environment and the impact we, as a college, have on it. This year, we are making a special attempt to call attention to such issues as using our precious water supplies wisely. Our conversion of a fountain to a planter and our opportunity to make efficient use of our geothermal resources are two examples of such efforts."




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