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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 24, 2008

Mason to sound steam whistle Oct. 28 to mark power plant restoration

At noon Tuesday, Oct. 28, the University of Iowa power plant -- with the help of UI President Sally Mason -- will sound its steam whistle for the first time since June 13, when the Iowa River flooded the facility and silenced the familiar sound. The blow will mark the power plant's return to full operation.

With the return of the power plant the UI can also resume efforts to expand it's use of a renewable fuel -- oat hulls -- in a second coal-fired boiler consistent with the president's sustainability initiative. (For more information on this topic, visit

The power plant took on 21 feet of water during the flood and sustained an estimated $25 million in damage. The closure of the plant knocked out service of four boilers and three steam-driven turbine generators. Equipment, instrumentation, wiring and pipes were submerged, including 24 large electric motors, four boiler combustion air fans, six large compressors, three miles of piping insulation, and 42 miles of wire.

Extensive recovery work was needed to bring the boilers back online ahead of increased demands of the winter heating season. The boilers provide steam to the UI campus and are necessary for consistent and efficient cooling in the summer and heating in the winter.

The steam whistle has been part of daily life in the area for 80 years, sounding at 8 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. every day except Sundays and holidays to mark the once official start and finish of the work day and lunch hour. In 1990, the university planned to stop the practice but was dissuaded by residents who asked the UI to continue what had become a long tradition.

Other than a brief disruption in 1994 for maintenance, the whistle remained in operation until this summer's flooding.

For more information on the UI Power Plant visit

NOTE TO NEWS EDITORS: This is a PHOTO/VIDEO OPPORTUNITY ONLY for media. President Mason has another engagement immediately following the whistle blow and will not have time to take questions. Because space is limited, please contact Stephen Pradarelli at 319-384-0007 by 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27 if you are planning to cover the event.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Wendy Moorehead, Facilities Management, 319-335-1246; Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services, 319-384-0007,