CHAMPAIGN, Ill., 1/23/23: Scientists at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) have contributed their expertise and data on multiple water issues to inform the newly released 2022 Illinois State Water Plan, which serves as an advisory to address water-related challenges for the next seven years. PRI will also play an integral part in reaching the plan’s goals, particularly in developing an Illinois Integrated Water Information Center, a portal to water science information and technology in Illinois.
The State Water Plan was developed by the State Water Plan Task Force, involving PRI’s Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) and Illinois Water Resources Center, as well as 10 state agencies. The plan is designed to advise decision-makers at local and state levels on setting priorities for managing water resources. For the first time in its history, this plan focuses on interrelated water issues such as environmental justice and climate change.
“Multifaceted water-related issues require a network of water agencies, science, policies, and information to provide solutions to tackle urban flooding, water quality inequities, diminishing city water supplies, and other challenges,” said Glenn Heistand, ISWS water resources engineer and task force member. “To properly address the current water issues in Illinois and eliminate inequities in creating and providing water information, a centralized location, or hub, is needed to merge resources.”
One of the recommendations in the State Water Plan is for the task force to establish and fund the Illinois Integrated Water Information Center (IIWIC) at PRI to foster collaborations among local, state, and federal agencies and provide all types of information and technology to anyone interested in water resources.
“ISWS already has the experts involved in issues related to water and climate that the report addressed, as well as the current and historical data, technology, and services,” Heistand said. “This center would help us to meet the information needs of agencies and entities and house shared resources from multiple sources. This is the first place that people would go to start on their hunt for information involving water.”
The center would also help to strengthen the collaboration between Illinois agencies and partners on water-related issues, helping to serve the public interest and foster funding opportunities for research involving many disciplines.
Outreach and educational initiatives will also be expanded as part of the center. ISWS will lead workshops and community events and provide online education and other digital tools, ensuring equitable outreach and engagement.
In other areas, ISWS plans to expand climate and sediment monitoring networks and groundwater monitoring to obtain data in broader areas to build climate change resiliency and identify and analyze emerging contaminants, such as polyfluorinated substances. The survey will also improve data management using new tools, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, and improve hydrologic models for planning, response, and recovery from flooding.
Media contact: Glenn Heistand, 217-244-8856, firstname.lastname@example.org