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Illinois State Water Survey News: November 2020

The Illinois State Water Survey conducts state-of-the-art research and collects, analyzes, archives, and disseminates high-quality, objective data and technical information, providing a sound technical basis for the citizens and policymakers of Illinois to make decisions. ISWS is a division of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI).

water pipes
Reporting program collects data on water use in Illinois

Scientists investigating present and future water resources in Illinois find a wealth of data through the Illinois Water Inventory Program (IWIP), which collects data from users of high-capacity intakes and wells in Illinois.

Read more about the Illinois Water Inventory Program.


The Water Survey's Illinois Climate Network operates 19 statewide stations to collect data on wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, precipitation, barometric pressure, solar radiation, soil temperatures, and soil moisture. Water Survey staff also calculate data on dew point, degree days, potential evapotranspiration, and temperature inversion. All of this information—an annual total of 2 million records—is used by farmers, researchers, and businesses for decision making and planning.

Recently the ICN received continued funding support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue this contribution to the national weather monitoring network, or mesonet. 

Data from the Illinois Climate Network are available on the ISWS website

agriculture land

A team led by University of Illinois Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Praveen Kumar has received a grant of more than $6 million from the National Science Foundation for a five-year project to study “critical interfaces” in the environment that affect the transport and transformation of materials such as water, sediment, carbon, and nutrients. Scientists from the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey are key partners in the project, providing expertise in long-term monitoring, mapping, and water quality. 

Read more about the Critical Interface Network in Intensively Managed Landscapes.

Recently funded projects
  • Dewatering Well Assessment for Highway Drainage System at Five Sites in the East St. Louis Area (PI Tyler Pierson): This project involves monitoring the chemical treatment work of IDOT's well rehabilitation contractor and evaluating the chemical treatment/rehabilitation procedures and their effectiveness on approximately 12 of IDOT’s large-capacity interstate roadway dewatering wells. Tasks also include continuing the program of groundwater-level observation for IDOT’s roadway dewatering system. Funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation
  • IDOT Statewide River Sediment Sampling Program (PI Kip Stevenson): The Water Survey collects on-demand river sediment samples at various statewide locations for the Illinois Department of Transportation. Vibrocoring is used to collect sediment cores near bridge projects. The Water Survey’s sediment lab will conduct sieve and hydrometer analysis on some samples. Funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation
  • Illinois Risk MAP Projects and LOMR Partnership (PI Sally McConkey): This project continues the Cooperating Technical Partner relationship that ISWS has had with FEMA since 2008. ISWS works with FEMA and other partners to maintain and update flood hazard and flood risk information for the state of Illinois. Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Quality Assurance/Science Activity Centre–Americas (QA/SAC-Americas) (PI Thomas Bergerhouse): The Quality Assurance/Science Activity Centre–Americas seeks to document and help improve the quality of precipitation chemistry measurements from around the world. The Water Survey will take on management of the QA/SAC-Americas website, international laboratory data entry and organization, coordination with international shipping partners, and close collaboration with World Meteorological Organization Science Advisory Groups. 
  • Quarterly Monitoring of the Vermilion River near Pontiac, Illinois (PI Kip Stevenson): This project continues water quality monitoring and sampling for the Livingston County Environmental Association on the Vermilion River near Pontiac, Illinois. The Pontiac Wastewater Treatment Operation (POTW) discharges to the Vermilion River and receives leachate collected from the Livingston County Landfill. Area residents want to determine whether this mixed wastewater stream is adequately treated within the POTW to avoid discharge of contaminants to the Vermilion River. Funded by the Livingston County Environmental Association
  • WaterOperator.org (PIs Steven Wilson and Hideyuki Terashima): This project will continue the Water Survey’s development and maintenance of WaterOperator.org, which has been online since 2008 as the go-to resource for water and wastewater operators, board members, community officials, and technical assistance providers. Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Rural Community Assistance Partnership
  • Wet Deposition Chemistry for the National Ecological Observatory Network (PI Evan Rea): Under the renewal of this project the Water Survey will continue to provide analytical services to the National Ecological Observatory Network. Funded by the National Science Foundation
hand on a water fountain
Staff spotlight
 Sadia Sabrina

University of Illinois graduate student Sadia Sabrina is passionate about protecting the environment and hopes her research with the Water Survey will help others better understand environmental data and make a positive impact on river and watershed management.

Notable reports & publications
ISWS virtual events

Dec. 3: Private Well Class: How to find local information and help
Dec. 10: WaterOperator.org: Outstanding Webinars: Plan + Promote + Present
Dec. 16: Private Well Class: Private well assessment and outreach for EHPs [4-hour workshop]

map of Pana, Illinois
Historical highlight

In 1916, a typhoid epidemic infected 36 residents in Pana, Illinois, resulting in one fatality. Water Survey scientists tracked down the likely source, highlighting the survey's long-standing commitment to water safety and public health.

ISWS employment opportunities

ISWS is seeking to hire up to two individuals to join the ISWS Coordinated Hazard Assessment and Mapping Program (CHAMP) team, which assesses local flood hazards, identifies high-risk areas, and engages community partners to inform, educate, and empower others to take action in preventing losses from natural hazards. The focus for both positions is hydraulic modeling. Applicants will be considered for one of two open positions based on engineering experience and education. Read the full position details and application instructions. Apply by Dec. 21


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