Lakeview geothermal plan draws criticism

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Chris Zinda, Hunters Hot Springs

Chris Zinda

Lakeview is poised to draw water from hot pools beneath the town's southern fringe to heat five schools and a hospital, saving each one up to $100,000 a year in oil costs.

But opponents to the $2.75 million geothermal project say it has a glitch: A second project has been lumped in. That second project would draw hot water from pools across town on Lakeview's north side, near prized geyser Old Perpetual, and use it for power generation.

Lakeview recently completed an environmental assessment of both projects for the U.S. Department of Energy, a requirement to secure federal funding to develop the heating district for the schools and hospital. The assessment shows the town also plans to develop a 200-kilowatt energy facility for about $800,000 and attach it to a well about 200 yards from Old Perpetual. The well currently draws hot water to heat the nearby Warner Creek Correctional Facility.

Though water used for the proposed energy facility would be reinjected into the ground if the project is built, the assessment found that water levels in the area would fluctuate by as much as 30 feet in the area of the geyser. Temperature may also be affected as water is drawn in and out.

Those findings have opponents up in arms, namely local resident Chris Zinda, who has since launched a web site at www.savehuntershotsprings.org, and is marshaling a group to fight the energy facility. Zinda has distributed flyers throughout Lakeview, placed a newspaper ad and is considering funding radio spots urging locals to take action.

"Those two projects should not be enjoined in the same environmental assessment," said Zinda. "Neither is like the other."

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