Four national organizations committed to ground water protection have agreed to conduct a comprehensive survey of states’ regulation of geothermal heating and cooling systems.

The survey, to be completed in early 2010, is underwritten by the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium, Ground Water Protection Council, International Ground Source Heat Pump Association and the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

Nationally, installations of geothermal heat pump systems are estimated by the federal government to have increased more than 33 percent in each of the last 2 years.

“With more and more boreholes being drilled to accommodate the increased demand for geothermal heating and cooling systems comes greater potential for ground water contamination,” says NGWA executive director Kevin McCray, CAE.

Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), also known as ground source heat pumps, replace conventional heating and cooling systems, and also can be configured to heat some or all of a building’s domestic hot water. Because they simply move heat to and from earth, instead of burning a fuel to generate heat, properly designed GHP systems can provide decades of inexpensive renewable energy.

“To help ensure a vibrant geothermal heating and cooling industry, ground water must be protected. It is important, then, to understand how states are protecting ground water while allowing this technology,” McCray asserts.