Illinois Increases Water Supply Data Transparency with Communities
Illinois State Water Survey
The state of Illinois has been collaborating with regional partners to develop a single source of truth for its water demands and available supply since 1895. Up until 2018, much of this data was gathered via phone calls and traditional mail, hindering the state's ability to track the water supply in real-time.
General Fund/Existing Public Funds
In Progress/Under Construction since 2019
Illinois State Water Survey
The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), a division of the Prairie Research Institute, lacked timely, accurate data to share with regional partners and provide transparency on water supply and demand information for Illinois residents.
ISWS collaborates with partners throughout the state to ensure accurate water supply data. They recently began conducting a survey for each high-capacity point of water withdrawal and use each year. The data has become more specific over the years with advances in hydrological, geological and water use knowledge.
Until as recently as 2018, the state gathered groundwater survey data chiefly through traditional mail, with additional support via phone interviews and emails. The ISWS developed an internal system that required staff to manually enter data from the thousands of past paper reports stored in file cabinets. While this gave them the opportunity to analyze and model past data, manual processes were cumbersome.
The state's growing population led to increased business and farming, putting greater demands on available water resources. It became crucial to know the timing and location of aquifer declines to project how a given population will be affected. Although the legal mandate is limited to annual reporting, more frequent data can show valuable trend details that make a significant difference in the forecasted availability of a water supply.
The ISWS exchanges studies with regional partners around the state and relies on this data for lifespan forecasts of their water supplies. For both the regional partners and the ISWS to have accurate, actionable data, they needed a more efficient way of tracking.
ISWS has implemented a data analytics platform to streamline water data collection.
Sensing the need to leverage technology to move toward more precise data, ISWS collaborated with Illinois-based water sector operations data analytics company, Waterly, a digital platform supported by WaterClick, for near real-time water pumping data in a pilot with ISWS and several communities in Illinois.
Monthly (or more frequent) data would be a huge improvement to the team’s ability to forecast aquifer changes, and as a subset of high-capacity public users report daily data to EPA, this new system can use that data for ISWS. As Illinois EPA requires that information on paper, their new data platform is critical to capturing the digital information for ISWS, as well as unlocking potential distribution-related challenges.
Nick Gornick, Deputy Director - Plant Operations from City of Joliet, Illinois, further highlighted this value: “Watching the transformation from old-school paper forms to seeing the potential of the data being available at the aquifer or state level near real-time has been awesome. What used to take a year for the state to see and days for us to compile is just starting to be done directly from the field as often as we are collecting well data.”
With more frequent data, Illinois communities are better equipped to forecast potential shortages and act accordingly, ensuring that their citizens have sustainable access to water.
Automated retrieval of groundwater data allows ISWS to stay updated on groundwater levels and potential risk indicators for communities.
Monthly or real-time data enables regulatory agencies, research organizations, and communities alike to improve their understanding of current and future water risks.
Digitization of waterworks supports the sustainability and resilience of groundwater supplies.
South Elgin, West Dundee, Joliet, McHenry County are now piloting groundwater pumping data collection and have near real-time data as a result.
From large metropolitan areas to the suburbs, frequent groundwater data is crucial to the ability to plan for resiliency, economic growth, and public health.
Who Should Consider
Departments looking to develop a single source of truth for their water data.
National Groundwater Association Outstanding Groundwater Supply Project
Government Project Team
- Vlad lordache, ISWS
- Steve Wilson, ISWS
- Dr. Daniel Abrams, ISWS
Last UpdatedJun 7th, 2022