Late last year, a distraught Michael Ballam walked into a board meeting, plopped into his chair and announced, "I have some bad news."
The founder and general director of the Utah Festival Opera had just come from the historic Utah Theatre -- a shuttered movie house that was being converted into a production venue for the northern Utah-based company. Crews, attempting to dig 15 feet down from the orchestra pit tucked beneath the newly expanded stage, had just hit groundwater at 12 feet.
A geyser was bubbling up, filling the pit at about 20 gallons per minute and seemingly dooming the $3.5 million-$4 million renovation.
The Utah Theatre's season-ending groundwater issue, while a minor disaster, has led the opera company to what could eventually become a long-term, cash-saving alternative. If the water pressure was powerful enough to create a bubbling geyser in the orchestra pit, then something must be driving it.
In this case, an aquifer, fed by subterranean runoff from the mountains to the east, sits another 200 feet below, exerting its pressure upward.
After Ballam walked into the board meeting to deliver his bad news, vice chairman Anderson was struck by a thought. Could the deep aquifer be tapped and, using geothermal technology, could the resulting green energy be used to heat and cool the Utah Theatre?
Monday, September 21, 2009
"The spirt's willing, but the bank account's weak."
The Salt Lake City Trib has a story about an Opera Company trying to make lemonade out of the avalanche of lemons which has come its way: