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JULY 2020 NEWS FROM ISWS

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. 

 
 

flood map

Using rainfall data and 2D modeling, staff with the Water Survey's Coordinated Hazard Assessment and Monitoring Program prepared this story map about a recent flash flooding event in DePue, Illinois.

 
 
 

PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT

 Public Service Lab
 

When Illinoisans have questions about their home water supply, the Water Survey’s Public Service Lab can provide answers. The Water Survey’s chemists customize each water analysis depending on where the water came from, how it will be used, and the symptoms of the problem.

 
 
 

FOCUS ON DATA

 water
 

Water Survey researchers have updated the publication that provides Illinois’ standards for expected extreme storms, known as Bulletin 75.

“The data that Bulletin 75 provides is pervasive across everything we do, and we are using it to tell a better story,” said Kay Whitlock, vice president at Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. Whitlock says that she has been working with ISWS data for more than three decades as part of projects to manage water resources, deal wtih stormwater, and mitigate flooding.

 
 
 

FEATURED PROJECTS

 gun range flooding map
 

After a downpour in early June, Water Survey hydrographer Ryan Meekma compared images from the Topographic Wetness Index (TWI), which outlines low-lying areas in Illinois that could flood, with actual flooding at a gun range in Champaign, Illinois, to study the tool’s effectiveness.

 
 
 
 floodwaters nearly covering stop sign
 
Analysis of flood risks continues in of McDonough and Macoupin counties

The Water Survey is conducting hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in McDonough County and Macoupin County to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk for flood mitigation planning. ISWS is working collaboratively on the project with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources-Office of Water Resources and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 
 
 
Recently funded projects
  • Investigating soil moisture-convective precipitation feedbacks with soil moisture-active passive (PI Trenton Ford): The relationship between soil moisture and initiation of deep convection is not well understood. Many global models indicate that there is a positive soil moisture-precipitation feedback (i.e., wet soils lead to increased precipitation). This contrasts with recent observation-based studies that indicate afternoon convective precipitation occurs preferentially over dry soils (negative soil moisture-precipitation feedback). This project will evaluate whether deep convection initiation occurs preferentially over wet or dry soils, identify how these preferences vary over time and space, and determine how soil moisture heterogeneity and gradients influence initiation of deep convection. Funded by NASA
  • Influence of natural cloud seeding on lake-effect snow system microphysical and entrainment processes (PI David Kristovich): Extreme lake-effect snow storms can produce snowfall measured in meters, but little is known about how they interact with larger atmospheric systems. One way that this interaction occurs is though high-altitude clouds dropping snow into lake-effect clouds (“seeding”), resulting in changes in surface snow intensity and intensified wind circulations. This project aims to answer two fundamental questions about lake-effect snowstorms: 1) what are the influences of external natural cloud seeding on the microphysical evolution of lake-effect snow storms, and 2) how are the dynamic properties of the convective boundary layer altered by such seeding. The project also will produce a catalog of liquid water content, ice content, and particle spectra—data sets that are useful for a wide range of numerical modeling. Funded by the National Science Foundation
 
 
 
 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

 John Beardsley unloads equipment from the back of a truck
 

John Beardsley, a research field specialist in the Watershed Science Section, has been with the Water Survey since 1988. His work focuses on river and stream restoration and storm monitoring, including the Stream and Watershed Assessment Program. He also manages the Benchmark Sediment Monitoring network 

Get to know John, including what drew him to this career, what he enjoys most about his job, and how hydrology has changed over his time with the Water Survey. 

 
 
 
 

NOTABLE REPORTS & PUBLICATIONS

 
 
 
 

ISWS EVENTS

July 13: Septic systems 101 
July 21: Free compliance resources for monitoring & reporting
July 29: Social media 101 for public water systems
August 26: Advanced tips & tricks for social media
September 10: Groundwater and well care

 
 
 

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHT

Long-time Water Survey employee Tom Holm conducts water sampling, circa 2002. Tom conducted research on groundwater chemistry and water quality at the Water Survey from the early 1980s until his retirement in 2014. Tom, who recently passed away unexpectedly, was a well-respected and fondly remembered colleague to many past and present ISWS staff.

Tom Holm sampling

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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