State of Illinois Drought Preparedness and Response Plan

The State Water Task Force is an interagency group that was assembled in 1980 to guide policy decisions related to water issues, and to prepare a State Water Plan for Illinois. The Task Force updates Illinois’ 1983 Drought Contingency Plan with this Drought Preparedness and Response Plan - continuing to provide local and state officials and the public with information on water supply issues, and key considerations for drought preparedness. This plan was developed from pilot regional water supply assessments and planning projects. These pilot studies were conducted on prioritized aquifer systems and watersheds in Illinois, and addressed surface and groundwater supply, and climate change impacts.

Climate change can enhance drought conditions, and for Illinois, some of the most significant impacts from drought are on public water supply, crops, and rural households dependent on personal wells. The greatest economic loss in Illinois is likely to be the damage to crops, primarily corn and soybeans - with drought conditions during the growing season. Also, the report describes that several hundred thousand people are in rural communities in Illinois and dependent on private wells for their water. Shallow wells can be extremely sensitive to relatively small declines in the groundwater level.

The Plan’s Authorities and Regulations section provides an overview of the primary Illinois water laws related to drought, and describes areas within which that are lacking and in need of updates, amendments, or additional legislation. The report either summarizes the law or outlines alternative options and recommendations in the following areas of Illinois Water Law:

  • Authorities and Need For Emergency Powers during Drought Conditions
  • Instream Flow Protection
  • Groundwater Management and Regulation
  • Public Water Supply Regulations
  • Lake Michigan Water Allocation Program
  • Water Withdrawal Reporting (Illinois Water Inventory Program)

The plan identifies and presents the results of pilot studies of four priority aquifer systems and five watersheds in Illinois deemed most in need of improved water supply planning and management - to ensure current and future water needs can be met, and conflicts minimized. Drought vulnerability assessments indicated that the surface water systems in Illinois that are most vulnerable are those that depend on man-made reservoirs for their supply, with over half of these systems considered to be at risk or inadequate. In Northeastern Illinois, computer simulations of scenarios of future pumping were conducted. Resulting projections show significant additional drawdown, reduction in stream base flow, and changes in the quality of groundwater withdrawn from deep wells are all possible in parts of the 11-county study area before 2050.

The plan discusses the need for communities to conduct risk assessments and develop drought preparedness plans on which to act. A Checklist is provided at the end of the report to Evaluate Local and Regional Water Supplies. This guidance supports the development of a drought preparedness plan with a series of self-assessment questions related to water use, water supply system, uncertainties, and past drought experiences.

 

Publication Date: October 12, 2011

Related Organizations:

  • Illinois State Water Plan Task Force

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Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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