Illinois Drought: Illinois Drought Task Force Meeting Minutes, August 26, 2005, Illinois State Water Survey

Illinois Drought


Summary of the Drought Response Task Force Meeting Number 4 - August 26, 2005


The Drought Response Task Force (DRTF) held its fourth meeting in the Board Room, IDNR Headquarters on Friday, August 26, 2005. The following were present at the meeting or participated by teleconference:


Governor's Office

Kristin Richards


Lt. Governor's Office   

Erica Ott



Steve Chard



Ray Pilapil



Scott Gauvin

Jim Watts

IEPA Public Water Supplies   

Dave McMillan

Roger Selburg


IDNR Director's Office

Leslie Sgro


IDNR Fisheries

Steve Pallo


IDNR State Water Survey

Ken Hlinka

Vern Knapp

Amy Russell

Bob Scott

Derek Winstanley

IDNR Water Resources

Gary R. Clark

Frank Pisani



Bob Cowles



Audrey Ishii

Co-Chairs, Gary Clark and Roger Selburg convened this fourth DRTF meeting at 1:30 p.m with attendees introducing themselves and the agency/division they represent.


Derek Winstanley provided a 3-page drought summary report referencing 6 figures (maps and tables) of water and climate data which had been sent to DRTF representatives prior to the meeting. August precipitation across most of Illinois was about normal or above normal. Precipitation since March remains much below normal over most of west central and northern Illinois. The statewide rainfall deficit since March 1st is 7.24 inches, or 67 percent of normal. As of August 25, statewide March-August precipitation is the 6th driest on record and is the 3rd driest on record in northwest, northeast and central Illinois. Soil moisture in the 0-72 inch layer indicates that soils remain very dry across central and north central Illinois, especially below 20 inches. The State Water Survey's Groundwater Information Office continues to receive reports form well drillers lowering their pumps or redrilling wells to greater depths as a result of lowered water levels in aquifers in northern and northwestern Illinois, including Kane, LaSalle and Whiteside Counties.


On August 25, record low streamflows for that date were recorded on the Green River near Geneseo, on Blackberry Creek near Yorkville, on the Mackinaw River near Green Valley, on the Spoon River at London Mills, and on Indian Creek near Wyoming. The water level in the Mississippi River at St. Louis has risen several feet over the last week and is now about five feet above the level where navigation problems might be expected to occur. The Illinois River is in the range of normal flow levels for late August.


The National Weather Service predicts the potential for a varied amount of precipitation across the state on August 26-27, reaching 0.50 to 1.25 inches in most places. The forecast for the following period through the first week of September is for drier than normal conditions across Illinois. Statewide precipitation averages 3.24 inches in September and 2.87 inches in October.


Roger Selburg reported that not much has changed since the last DRTF meeting. Elgin and Aurora continue to augment their surface water supply withdrawals with groundwater supplies. Elgin has requested voluntary conservation measures and Aurora is operating under an odd-even watering restriction. Joliet (groundwater source) remains on a watering ban. In the Springfield region, the communities of Ashland and LaHarpe continue to be of greatest concern, though recent rains have provided some relief.


Bob Cowles provided the following activity report since the last DRTF meeting. In Ogle County, five driven wells were replaced. In Calhoun County, five water wells were reported as requiring service due to the effect of declining groundwater levels and well production. In Kendall County, permits were issued to deepen four wells. In Bond County, permits were issued to replace two wells. Kane County reported that six existing wells were replaced and one well was deepened.


Steve Chard stated that farmers were relieved to receive above normal precipitation for the last two weeks, which has also halted the spraying of insecticides. Topsoil moisture has improved, and was reported to be 27% very short, 43% short, 29% adequate, a 1% surplus. The corn crop is too far along to have received any benefit from the rains. The corn crop condition was 59% very poor to poor and 41% fair to good. Soybeans have benefitted the most from the recent rains and soybean plants are showing signs of regrowth and increased pod fill with beans. The soybean crop condition was 35% very poor to poor, 63% fair to good, and 2% excellent. The USDA August 1 crop report projected corn harvest @ 1.49 billion bushels (down 28.5% from 2004), soybean harvest @ 376 million bushels (down 25% from 2004), and wheat harvest @ 38.4 million bushels (down 28% from 2004). The 2004 harvest was a record high. Steve mentioned that pastures conditions have improved and good corn harvests are being reported in southern Illinois. However, corn yields will decline as the harvest progresses northward.


Steve stated that on August 16, Governor Blagojevich encouraged farmers affected by drought to apply for state emergency low-interest loans by announcing the State Guarantee Program for Restructuring Agricultural Debt, as administered by the Illinois Finance Authority. Nearly $87 million is available to help farmers obtain loans and reduce the costs of their existing debt. Steve added that farmers interested in applying for the loans should contact Bart Bittner at the Illinois Finance Authority - (217) 782-9792.


Steve Pallo stated that there haven't been many problems with fish kills in the last two weeks but had reports of moderate fish kills in backwater areas of lakes the week following our last DRTF meeting. The fish kills were mostly "rough" fish, e.g., buffalo and carp, caused by nutrient rich waters and lack of oxygen. Some ponds have experienced fish kills and Steve noted that the DNR has a program to restock fish for a nominal fee. The problem with paddlefish dying in the Wabash River is still occurring. The culture tests for detection of viral problems or bacterial infection have not come back yet.


Gary Clark stated that the navigation issues were getting critical prior to flow increases as stated in Derek's report. Dredging of sandbars is still occurring which is not abnormal for this time of year. There are still problems with low flow controls at the Sinnissippi Dam on the Rock River due to gate technology problems associated with low flow conditions.


Ray Pilapil stated there were no new drought related incidents for investor-owned water utilities for this reporting period. Previous reported situations resulting from the drought continue. The water restrictions experienced by Commission regulated utilities is the result of outside factors such as other community restrictions. Both the ICC and the investor-owned water utilities continue to closely monitor the drought situation for any effects on utility customers. On the electric side, there were no drought related issues to report.


Jim Watts stated that IEMA has received no requests for assistance and had no drought-related issues to report.


Detailed agency reports concerning the drought are available on the State Water Survey website at


In summary, the drought issues remain, particularly in most of west-central and northern Illinois. The DRTF continues to encourage voluntary water conservation measures. The agencies should continue to closely monitor the drought and provide updates every two weeks to Gary Clark and Roger Selburg. The next DRTF meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 29th @ 1:30 p.m., IDNR Headquarters - 3rd Floor - Board Room.

Illinois Drought

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