The sound of fans whirring can be heard today throughout the state Capitol.
The air-conditioning system is broken.
“We really can’t give a definite time frame right now about getting it repaired,” Gerry Smedley, a spokeswoman for the state Central Services Department, said this morning.
A water pipe to the Capitol broke late yesterday, Smedley said. The Capitol uses a hybrid geothermal heat pump system to cool and heat it. Chilled water from wells and a cooling tower are pumped into the Capitol to cool offices.
“We’re evaluating the damage to determine how much has to be repaired and how long it will take,” Smedley said.
About 300 gallons is leaking into the ground every 10 minutes, she said.
“That’s a lot of water,” Smedley said.
The rotunda areas of the Capitol are not air conditioned. The Capitol, built during 1914-19, was not designed for a central heating and air-conditioning system.
Office workers appear to be coping with the lack of air conditioning. Some have fans running; most have doors open.
Visitors to the Capitol shouldn’t notice much difference because the rotunda areas are not air conditioned anyway. It’s usually hot and steamy in the first- through fifth-floor rotunda area, where most visitors roam, during summer months.
The last significant break in air conditioning service at the Capitol occurred four years ago. A couple offices closed when temperatures in the offices exceeded 85 degrees.
Temperatures in the Capitol are tolerable so far this morning, but as temperatures outside rise to a predicted high in the mid-90s, it will start heating up inside as well.