The three state-supported universities plan to begin testing the groundwater at the sites where they dump the coal ash left over from their power plants. The remains of the coal from Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa is dumped at a limestone quarry near Waterloo that is exempt from state regulations requiring groundwater monitoring at landfills. Jefferey Witt of Iowa State utilities says the Board of Regents and university administrators raised questions about the site.

He says it came to them through the vice-presidents of the schools. “The university understands that what we’re doing meets the requirements, but the question was should we do a little more, or can we do more?,” Witt says. Witt says the utility managers at all three schools responded by recommending that the groundwater be monitored.

Witt says the university administration and the regents asked if they should we do more, can we do more to make sure we’re okay. He says the university utility people got together and decided it would be prudent to begin some additional monitoring. The groundwater monitoring will resemble the testing that’s required at landfills.

The universities will share the cost. Environmentalists recommend installing liners at coal ash disposal sites as well. Witt says the testing is a proactive move ahead of a likely federal mandate for groundwater monitoring.