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Acoustics (Noise) Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce acoustical impacts (noise) from geothermal energy development.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce noise impacts from site- and project-specific conditions. Noise impacts relate to the types and amount of equipment and machinery used for the project, the amount and types of vehicular traffic, and the times of day at which noise-producing activities are taking place. Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Proponents of a geothermal energy development project should take measurements to assess the existing background noise levels at a given site and compare them with the anticipated noise levels associated with the proposed project. Nearby residences and likely sensitive receptors should be identified at this time.
  • Locate all stationary construction equipment (i.e., compressors and generators) as far as practicable from nearby residences and other sensitive receptors.
  • Locate permanent sound-generating facilities (e.g., compressors, pumps) away from residences and other sensitive receptors. In areas of known conflicts, consider installing acoustic screening.
  • Where feasible, incorporate low-noise systems, such as ventilation systems, pumps, generators, compressors, and fans.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a geothermal energy development project include:

  • Limit noisy activities (including geothermal well drilling) to the least noise-sensitive (non-sleeping) times of day (weekdays only between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.).
  • All equipment should have sound-control devices no less effective than those provided on the original equipment. Muffle and maintain all construction equipment used.
  • Notify nearby residents in advance, if blasting or other noisy activities are required during the construction period.
  • Whenever feasible, schedule different noisy activities (e.g., blasting and earthmoving) to occur at the same time since additional sources of noise generally do not add a significant amount of noise. That is, less-frequent noisy activities would be less annoying than frequent less-noisy activities.
  • Use explosives only within specified times and at specified distances from sensitive wildlife or streams and lakes, as established by federal and state agencies.
  • To the extent feasible, route heavy truck traffic supporting construction activities away from residences and other sensitive receptors.