The Groundwater science team at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) has received the National Ground Water Association Outstanding Groundwater Supply Project Award for 2019 for their project Assessing At-Risk Groundwater Supply in the Southwest Suburbs of Chicago.
“The awards committee was particularly impressed with ISWS’s creative use of computer modeling techniques in bringing awareness to the public of rapid depletion of sandstone aquifers near Chicago,” said NGWA Awards Committee Chair, David Lipson. “Effectively communicating complex groundwater concepts and educating non-technical audiences is perhaps the greatest challenge faced by the groundwater profession, and ISWS’s project is a great example of success in promoting groundwater awareness.”
Walton Kelly leads the groundwater science team and oversees the award-winning groundwater supply project. “It’s very gratifying to be recognized nationally for the work we’ve been doing on the depletion of the deep sandstone aquifers in northeastern Illinois. We feel we’ve done some very important and innovative work, and it’s encouraging that our national professional association acknowledges this,” Kelly said.
Using a combination of data and modeling techniques to estimate the sustainable withdrawal rate, this project has alerted communities in the Will, Kendall, Kane, and McHenry Counties of an impending water shortage by 2030.
“Identifying at-risk aquifers of northeastern Illinois requires us to deploy innovative scientific approaches and interactive communication tools, and this award sends a clear signal to our scientific peers and stakeholders that these approaches and tools are exceptionally well suited for conducting timely, streamlined water supply analyses,” said Daniel Abrams, principal investigator on the project.
The groundwater science team is continuing their work to help these communities identify and switch to alternative, sustainable water sources before the critical 2030 deadline.
“The groundwater team’s robust expertise in science-based information and analysis through modeling and monitoring is sought after throughout our state,” said Danielle Gallet, director of Water Resources at the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). “Their assistance in sharing impartial, high-quality data and modeling has been instrumental in informing and motivating our elected officials and decision makers to pursue a more sustainable path—and a new water source—for drinking water security in our region.”
The ISWS will be presented with the Outstanding Groundwater Supply Project Award at the 2019 NGWA Groundwater Week conference Dec. 3-5, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Illinois State Waters Survey is a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.
NGWA is a not-for-profit professional society and trade association for the global groundwater industry.