The Sparta Township Council on September 13 passed an ordinance changing its water ordinances to require permits for anyone locating or altering geothermal wells, which are used in the production of geothermal energy.
Currently, Sparta Township allows only “closed loop” geothermal well systems, which are defined by the town as “a well into which a continuous closed loop of pipe is inserted for the purpose of non-contact thermal energy transfer from a fluid in the loop to or from the earth.”
According to the new ordinance, no one can locate, construct or alter any geothermal well system until a permit has been issued by the Sussex County Health Department. Additionally, all permits to locate, construct or alter a non-public or public non-community water system shall expire after a year.
The ordinance implements an application fee of $65 for the issuance of a permit.
After connecting to the township’s water utility, each property owner shall have their wells sealed by a licensed well driller.
Only closed-loop systems will be allowed to be installed in the township, and connections between the private well system and the public water supply system will be prohibited.
The ordinance does not require the elimination of a well. Township engineer Stan Puszcz said there are some wells that will have to be addressed to make them closed looped. Separating the wells from the township water supply lowers the risk of cross-contamination.