College of Southern Idaho Opts to Purchase Geothermal Aquifer

by | May 12, 2017

The College of Southern Idaho has announced that it will move forward with a purchase of Pristine Springs, a geothermal aquifer currently used to heat most of the school’s Twin Falls campus, according to a May 10 report by the Magic Valley Times-News.

Trustees voted unanimously on May 9 to adopt a resolution directing CSI administrators to finalize the $2.4 million purchase. “Ownership of the geothermal water rights presents a unique and rare opportunity for CSI to obtain assets that will benefit the college and its future operations,” the resolution states.

State legislators appropriated $1.2 million this year and CSI will pay the other $1.2 million using plant facilities money reserved for the project.

The Pristine Spring geothermal well has a water flow of 4.5 cubic feet per second. It is an artesian well – meaning that water is pushed to the surface by subterranean pressure, through porous rocks, and does not require the use of a pump.

Pristine Springs spans about 400 acres on the Jerome County side of the Snake River, near the Blue Lakes Trout Farm. It includes an aquaculture facility, farmland, a mile of riparian land [wetlands] along the Snake River, and co-generation combined heat and power facilities.

Currently, the Idaho Department of Water Resources board owns the facility, according to the newspaper report, which notes that the board took over the facility in 2008 as part of a $26 million deal with the city of Twin Falls, and the North Snake and Magic Valley ground water districts. The department signed a letter of intent last December to sell Pristine Springs to the college.

Buying Pristine Springs ensures that the college will have geothermal water rights to continue to save at least $125,000 in heating costs per year, and it will allow for potential new lab and program opportunities for students.

“This is one of the best things the CSI board has accomplished,” Board Chairman Karl Kleinkopf said during the May 9 meeting, according to the local news outlet.

“This is a project that has been on the books for a long, long time,” college President Jeff Fox commented, adding that , in 1978, the previous CSI President,  “Doc” Taylor, had drilled a well on campus to utilize geothermal energy.

“In fact, the hot water at Pristine Springs comes from the same deep aquifer that CSI has used for many years to heat most buildings on campus,” college spokesman Doug Maughan wrote in a May 5 letter to trustees. He urged, “The management of this geothermal water is not only important to CSI, it is vital to our ability to continue heating our buildings now and into the future. Until now, however, CSI has had no way of managing how much geothermal water is used at Pristine Springs.”

After the vote, Trustee Laird Stone told the local newspaper that he thought the legacy of the Pristine Springs purchase will last for years to come. “It’s been a really good day for the college.”

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