About The Illinois State Water Survey

Groundwater Science

Northeastern Illinois: Past Groundwater Projects

Water-Resources Investigations for Kane County, Illinois

The projections for population growth, the possibilities of climate change and impaired quality, natural limits, and legal constraints on the availability of water in Northeastern Illinois create a challenging future for water-resources management in Kane County. This challenge was clearly articulated in Kane County’s 2020 Land Resource Management Plan (Kane County, Illinois, 1996), which recognized the vulnerability of the county’s water resources and the need to provide a scientific basis for their management. This scientific basis must be developed from the observed characteristics of the water-resources systems, interpreted by experienced analysts using appropriate techniques, and disseminated and archived using current information technologies. The Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey are jointly involved in a series of hydrological and geological investigations that will provide technical support for the policies for management and protection of water resources listed in the 2020 Land Resource Management Plan. The specific objectives of the joint investigation are to assist the County in:

  • protecting groundwater quality;
  • preserving groundwater availability;
  • providing a basis for the formulation of policy and management strategy for its water resources; and
  • providing baseline data and a framework for future studies.

The investigations will accomplish these objectives through geological and hydrological field studies, records searches, database construction and management, and computer-assisted mapping and modeling of the geology, groundwater and surface water systems. These studies will produce interim and final reports, interpretive maps, database files, GIS files, a three-dimensional geological model, a set of groundwater-flow models and an interactive flow accounting model of the Fox River watershed. The study began on May 1, 2002 and will continue through April 30, 2007 for a total project duration of five years.

Author: Scott Meyer


Chicago Region Mass Measurement

Between mid-September 2000 and mid-February 2001, the depth to water in the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer was measured in 400 to 500 wells in more than 15 Chicago region counties. This is the eleventh such measurement undertaken by the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) since 1959. These data will be used to update a map of the groundwater level in the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer, which has served millions of Illinois residents since its development in the late 1800s. Water withdrawal data from the ISWS Illinois Water Inventory Program also will be tabulated. Existing conditions will be described in table, map, and text form for comparison with data from the previous mass measurement in 1995.

Final Case Study: ISWS Data/Case Study 2002-02 

Author: Steve Burch


Impacts of Urbanization on Base Flow and Recharge

Streamflow data and historical aerial photography are being used to assess the impacts of urbanization on base flow and groundwater recharge in three small, urbanized watersheds in northeastern Illinois. Investigations in other urban areas have shown that the proliferation of impervious surfaces (roofs, paved streets and parking areas, and sidewalks) along with the use of storm- and sanitary-sewer systems have decreased infiltration and, consequently, groundwater recharge and base flow. Still other investigations have shown that certain aspects of urbanization - water imported from extrabasinal areas, decreased transpiration, and microclimatic changes leading to increased precipitation - can increase recharge and base flow. This investigation has two goals: (1) to document temporal changes in base flow, other streamflow statistics, and groundwater recharge in selected northeastern Illinois watersheds, and (2) to correlate significant temporal changes in these quantities with land-cover changes in the watersheds, as documented by aerial photography.

Final Case Study: Investigation of Impacts of Urbanization on Base Flow and Recharge Rates, Northeastern Illinois: Summary of Year 2 Activities

Author: Scott Meyer


Changes in Shallow Groundwater Quality

Researchers are examining long-term changes in groundwater quality of shallow aquifers in the Chicago metropolitan area. Historical data are being analyzed using various statistical methods to determine temporal trends in water quality and identify the extent and possible sources of shallow aquifer degradation. Both government and private planning officials will find this information helpful in decision making. Methodology developed for this study also will prove useful for examining trends in water-quality data in other parts of Illinois and elsewhere.

Final Case Study: Temporal Changes in Shallow Groundwater Quality in Northeastern Illinois (no longer available online)

Author: Walt Kelly


Comparing Water Availability and Projected Demand in 2020

The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) is participating in an interagency effort to compare water availability in northeastern Illinois with projected water demand in 2020 in the region. According to the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, a 1.8-million population increase is expected in the metropolitan Chicago region by the year 2020. However, the region's traditional resources for large water supplies - water diverted from Lake Michigan and pumped from the region's deep bedrock aquifer system - may be inadequate to meet the needs of this projected growth. It is likely that the water demands of this future growth will be increasingly accommodated by water from the region's shallow aquifers and inland streams. The ISWS has compiled estimates of groundwater availability in each township of the six-county northeastern Illinois region for project use and has provided data on 1998 water demand in the region for use in developing projections of 2020 demand.

Final Case Study: Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission Strategic Plan

Author: Scott Meyer


Questions about any of the studies listed above? Contact: Walt Kelly

Illinois State Water Survey

2204 Griffith Dr., MC-674
Champaign, IL 61820-7463
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