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Water Survey

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  • ISWS partnership helps prevent water shortage in Northeastern Illinois

    Facing an imminent water shortage and drilling deeper into its aquifers to meet demands, planning committees and legislators from Joliet and surrounding communities are partnering the ISWS to prevent a water crisis.

  • Trent Ford

    Trent Ford named new Illinois State Climatologist

    Hydroclimatologist Trent Ford, currently an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been selected as the next Illinois State Climatologist, the authoritative source of weather and climate information and services for the state of Illinois. 

  • Buying a home in Illinois? You'll need PRI for that.

    Nearly 150,000 homes were sold in Illinois last year. For every Illinois home sold, the Prairie Research Institute provides data needed for banks, title companies, insurance companies, and consumers to make informed decisions about home ownership. 

  • Reflection of Building on Body of Water at Daytime

    The impact of Bulletin 75

    As Illinois experiences a third consecutive year of record-breaking rainfall stretching from Chicago to Cairo, researchers at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) have updated the publication that provides Illinois’ standards for expected extreme storms, known as Bulletin 75.

  • ISTC and ISWS Director Kevin OBrien with University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen at City, Water, Light, and Power in Springfield, Illinois.

    Carbon capture collaborations lead clean energy drive

    The Prairie Research Institute — is leading a drive to implement CO2 removal strategies, an essential step to a clean-energy future. 

  • Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel to retire in December

    Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist, has announced that he will retire in December 2018 after 34 years at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). In his current position, Angel has served as the primary source of science-based weather and climate information and services for the state of Illinois since 1997.

  • Study shows future climate changes in wind patterns vary by U.S. region and season

    The Midwest is a particularly promising region for future wind energy development out to 2100 when accounting for climate change, according to a new study at the University of Illinois.

  • ISWS team wins 2019 NGWA Outstanding Groundwater Supply Project Award

    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

  • Laura Keefer named Illinois State Hydrologist

  • Welcome new Water Survey staff!

    Since the beginning of the year the Water Survey has hired more than a dozen new people, expanding its capabilities and capacity.

  • brown marmorated stinkbug

    Improved pest degree day calculators are available for the 2021 growing season

    Two updated pest degree day calculators from the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) are now available for commodity and specialty crop growers in Illinois, featuring seven-day weather forecasts, graphs, and insect emergence maps to track accumulated degree days and light for the most notorious pests.

  • map of Central Illinois' Mahomet aquifer

    Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force issues recommendations

    A task force formed by the Illinois General Assembly to identify gaps in protection of the Mahomet Aquifer has issued its final recommendations. Illinois State Water Survey hydrologist George Roadcap served as a member of the task force, and other Prairie Research Institute scientists provided data and expertise to support the group’s yearlong effort.

  • View of New York City from the East River.

    NOAA draws on ISWS expertise for climate model update

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is tapping the expertise of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) to finish a multi-year collaboration updating climate model projections for its Atlas 14, which serves as the benchmark for precipitation frequency values across the United States.

  • Rethinking short-term droughts in Illinois

    While there is no universally accepted definition of drought, contemporary definitions look at a percentage of precipitation over a protracted period of time, in most cases over the course of a year. Some say this approach leaves people and communities vulnerable to a different type of drought – flash droughts.

  • New Homeowners' To-Do List Should Include Well Water Testing

    Looking for that special house in the country?  Don't forget to have the well tested to ensure safe drinking water, advises Steve Wilson, groundwater hydrologist at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

  • Map of building footprints

    Project maps out building footprints in Illinois to study natural disasters

    Researchers at the University of Illinois are keeping an eye on areas of Illinois that are at high risk for flooding, not only county by county, but also building by building.

  • Illinois Groundwater Resources Interactive Map

    Illinois has an abundance of groundwater resources that supply millions of gallons of water per day to public, irrigation, and commercial/industrial systems. Groundwater resources are unevenly distributed throughout Illinois due to the state’s complex bedrock and glacial geology. This interactive map depicts the three major aquifer systems in Illinois and the public water supply (PWS) wells that extract groundwater from them. Users can select or query wells based on spatial location or attribute, and then can view reported withdrawals in an attribute table or in graph view. Users can also export data found in the attribute tables as a CSV file and can output maps in various formats for printing.

  • head and shoulder of seated man

    Brian Kerschner steps up to serve as spokesperson for weather and climate issues

    With the retirement of Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, Brian Kerschner is stepping up to temporarily serve as the Illinois State Water Survey’s point person on weather and climate issues while a search is conducted for the new full-time Illinois State Climatologist.

  • PRI Celebration of Excellence (text)

    2018 Celebration of Excellence

    On April 11, the Prairie Research Institute honored employees for their outstanding achievements and excellent work. Selection committees composed of staff from across the organization reviewed multiple strong nominations before selecting the 2018 honorees.

  • Network now monitors air temperature inversions in several locations

  • Google Earth image of the shooting range showing the actual flood extent.

    Case study on flooding highlights usefulness of topographical tool

    After a downpour in early June, Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) 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.

  • Illinois mp of water supply planning regions.

    Water Supply Planning team helps Illinois meet water needs

    Due to projected growth of the population and economy, Illinois could require 20 to 50 percent more water in coming decades. Ensuring adequate and reliable supplies of clean water for all requires us to think ahead. We need to know how much water will be available, how much water we will need, what the options are for providing additional supplies, reducing demand, and what the impacts and costs will be.

    Since 2006 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has tasked the Water Survey with leading regional water supply planning activities for 11 Illinois regions. Learn more about the team that carries out this important activity.

  • Water Survey to receive $1M for rural outreach programs

    The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) will receive more than $1 million in funding through 2021 to support its drinking water outreach programs for private well owners and small, rural communities.

  • Soil temperatures and moisture levels declining in early March

  • Soil temperatures this winter in Illinois were warmer than normal

  • Upwind Lakes Can Influence the Intensity of Lake-Effect Snowstorms over Downwind Lakes

    Research shows that small lakes even hundreds of miles away can cause lake-effect snows to intensify around the Great Lakes, a phenomenon that may occur more often with climate change, according to David Kristovich, head of the Center for Atmospheric Science at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

  • orange irrigation pipe

    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.

  • Project features home assessments for flood risks

    Scientists studying and mapping flood hazards have long identified whole neighborhoods that are vulnerable to flooding, but with new data, researchers at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) can specify flood risk for individual homes and businesses.

  • New hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in McHenry County, Illinois is underway.

    Water Survey to analyze flood risks in McHenry County, Illinois

    The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) announced today that new hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in McHenry County, Illinois is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk for flood mitigation planning.

  • metal rain gage standing in field of brown plants

    Illinois Climate Network marks 30 years of monitoring Illinois weather and soil

    It’s been 30 years since the Illinois State Water Survey launched the Illinois Climate Network (ICN) to monitor the state’s weather and soils. The 19 ICN stations around the state 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.

  • Report for the Urban Flooding Awareness Act

    The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has released a new report examining the prevalence and costs associated with urban flooding in Illinois, along with strategies and recommendations for minimizing damage to property from this flooding. The Illinois General Assembly called upon IDNR to prepare the report in collaboration with several state agencies.

  • ISWS watershed science team tackles new projects

    Ongoing projects in watershed science continue to contribute to long-term databases, while new projects tackle some of today’s tough challenges.

  • the water testing laboratory at the Water Survey

    ISWS analysis can provide answers to water questions

    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. 

  • Bitter cold in January likely won’t reduce field crop pests in the spring

    Despite the record cold air temperatures, soil temperatures averaged slightly warmer than normal this winter. Consequently, the Arctic conditions are expected to have little effect on overwintering field crop insect pest populations.

  • storm clouds over a field

    World Data Centre for Precipitation Chemistry finds a new home at ISWS

    The Illinois State Water Survey is the new home of the World Data Centre for Precipitation Chemistry, which receives and archives precipitation chemistry data and complementary information from stations across the globe.

  • snowy roadway

    Changing methods for road salt application may ease environmental effects

    Salt crystals on roads and parking lots shimmer in the muted sunlight of an Illinois winter day. Once washed away into rivers and streams, salt contaminates the local environment, according to groundwater geochemist Walt Kelly with the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute (PRI).

  • PRI scientists bring expertise to study of critical interfaces

    PRI scientists from the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey are part of a collaborative project to study “critical interfaces” in the environment.

  • ISWS investigates the potential for stormwater credit trading in Cook County

    In 2017, The Metropolitan Planning Council, The Nature Conservancy, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District in Cook County collaborated on a feasibility study to consider stormwater credit trading as an alternative to creating on-site facilities for site development or redevelopment. As part of this study, the collaborators contracted a team of engineers and hydrologists at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), joined by U of I Department of Landscape Architecture staff, to assess the land area that has the potential for off-site stormwater management facilities in suburban Cook County

  • Survey seeks ideas to help specialty crop growers make pest control decisions

    Researchers at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute are developing new pest degree day tools for the state’s specialty crop growers. A short online survey offers growers the opportunity to contribute their opinions on how this information is delivered.

  • aerial view of Illinois River

    Sediment causes economic and environmental concerns in the Illinois River valley

    Researchers at the Prairie Research Institute's Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) have computed a sediment budget over 35 years to determine the amount of sediment coming into the river valley and the amount going out to the Mississippi River

  • GIS topographic view

    GIS topographic tool is applied statewide

    The Water Survey uses a GIS analysis tool called the Topographic Wetness Index to identify low-lying areas that could be subject to ponding during rain events. The index is particularly important because areas of low terrain with upslope—conditions that contributes to drainage areas—can be spotted outside of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mapped floodplain areas.

  • Previous records slashed with monumental cold conditions in Illinois

    Illinois has been experiencing some of the coldest weather that has been seen in decades and, in some locations, ever.

  • Groundwater hydrologist is honored for contributions to the water operating profession

    Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) groundwater hydrologist Steve Wilson has received an Association of Boards of Certification’s award for advancing the water and wastewater operating profession. The Kenneth D. Kerri Excellence in Workforce Development Award was presented to Wilson for going beyond the call of duty as an educator.

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in Peoria County

    The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) announced today that new hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of select streams in Peoria County is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify high flood-risk areas for flood mitigation planning.

  • McConkey joins U of I group on building resilience to climate change

    Professional engineer Sally McConkey has joined the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment’s (iSEE) new Resilience Working Advisory Team (RWAT) to foster resilience to the local effects of climate change.

  • drilling equipment in field

    ISGS, ISWS install new wells for national groundwater monitoring

    Scientists and staff from the Illinois State Geological Survey and the Illinois State Water Survey  ollaborated with county and local governments in Kane County to install groundwater-monitoring wells in northeast Illinois as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Ground Water Monitoring Network

  • brown grass on lawn

    Illinois team contributes to vital weekly drought assessment

    Determing which areas of the U.S. and of Illinois are experiencing drought is a critical function of the U.S. Drought Monitor. A team of Illinois scientists led by Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford provides input on the state drought determination every week. 



  • Artificial Intelligence Scores High in Accuracy to Predict Water Contamination

    New, effective solutions are revealed when scientists use computer programs that simulate human intelligence to forecast drinking water contamination in agricultural areas, according to Momcilo Markus, hydrologist at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.

  • A lack of rain prompts drier soils across Illinois in mid-June

    Drier weather has led to declining soil moisture across Illinois, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Corn field and blue sky

    Growing degree day calculator provides site-specific weather data

    The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) growing degree day (GDD) calculator is updated daily through local weather stations for users to calculate projections on crop development and maturity specifically for their location.