This year, the Illinois State Water Survey marks its 125th year of advancing water,
weather, and climate science.
In 1895, the Illinois legislature earmarked funds for scientists at the University of
Illinois to study the state’s water supplies. Both water safety and availability were
concerns then, as they remain today. Back then, Water Survey staff fought typhoid
fever by testing more than 21,000 water samples from more than 900 towns in all
102 Illinois counties.
Today, our scientific research and service programs continue to anticipate and
react to critical issues related to the quality, quantity, and use of ground, surface,
and atmospheric water resources. Our scientists test Illinoisans’ water, assist
communities with water supply planning and flood mitigation, provide weather
and soil data that are critical to agriculture and other industries, and more. Much of
this essential work leverages our extensive datasets, which have been collected and
analyzed for more than a century.
During our recent strategic planning activities, we identified three research focus
areas where our expertise, data, and continued effort can deliver significant impact
in Illinois and beyond:
- Community Resiliency to risks such as heat waves, droughts, flash floods, and
- Nutrient and Sediment Transport and the impact on Illinois’ water quality and
supply, habitat, land use, and economy.
- Regional Climate and Green Energy, specifically better understanding of how
the changing climate will impact sources of renewable energy and providing
more accurate predictions of the benefits and length of service of renewable
This publication provides highlights of some of our key work in these in our 125th
year. This is truly just a glimpse of the Water Survey’s work, so please visit our
website and reach out to our staff to learn more.