ISWS History

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  • 1937 Ohio River flooding

    This image from the Water Survey's photo archives shows floodwaters from the Ohio River rising to submerge nearly the entire first floor of buildings along a street in Mound City, Illinois, in early February 1937. This flood caused extensive damage across several states, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois. More than 300 people died in this natural disaster, and it's estimated that 1 million people were forced from their homes. 

  • Water Survey hosted an international water resources conference in 1951

  • Edward Bartow, former ISWS director

    Edward Bartow (1870–1958) was an American chemist and an expert in the field of sanitary chemistry. He served as director of the Illinois State Water Survey in the early 1900s and led efforts to eliminate typhoid fever by developing treatment methodologies for water purification. 

  • Wilfred Langelier

    Wilfred Langelier, known for developing the Langelier Saturation Index, got his start at the Illinois State Water Survey. 

  • How ISWS helped end the 1916 typhoid epidemic in Pana, Illinois

    In 1916, typhoid fever swept through Pana, Illinois. Its origins appeared to be related to the public water supply until experts from the Illinois State Water Survey determined the unlikely source of outbreaks.

  • Specially equipped helicopter helped ISWS study the link between weather patterns and aphid migration

    In 1990, the Water Survey flew a helicopter equipped with special insect traps over central Illinoi to capture corn leaf aphids. Along with other University of Illinois researchers, ISWS was trying to understand how weather governs the migratory behavior of the corn leaf aphid, which carries destructive plant viruses that cause significant damage to Midwestern crops.

  • Tom Holm conducts water sampling, circa 2002

  • 1931 catalog of well contractors

  • Ingenious downhole camera

  • Young citizen assists with water testing