Water Quality - Watersheds, Illinois State Water Survey

Water Quality

Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, Whiteside, Boone, DeKalb

Modeling Effects of Ethanol Spill on Dissolved Oxygen in Rock River after the June 19, 2009 Train Derailment

Principal Investigators: Alena Bartosova, Michael Machesky, Jim Slowikowski, and Glenn Heistand

Project Staff: Amanda Flegel, Emily Jenkins, William Gillespie, Mary Richardson

Sponsor: Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Project Period: January 2012 - May 2013

An eastbound Chicago Central & Pacific (CC&P) train carrying denatured ethanol derailed at Cherry Valley near Rockford, Illinois. An unknown amount of ethanol leaked into an unnamed creek that flows into the Kishwaukee River and then into the Rock River. The derailment took place at 8:40 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) on Friday, June 19, 2009. A substantial fish kill was first reported on Rock River from near Grand Detour to Prophetstown, Illinois on Sunday morning (June 21) at 8 a.m. CDT.

The CC&P’s project team (including ARCADIS, a consulting firm) conducted an extensive modeling study of the ethanol impact on Rock River water quality. The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) reviewed the two technical reports produced in this effort. The IL Department of Natural Resources, the IL Environmental Protection Agency, and the Office of the Attorney General held a meeting to discuss ISWS’ review. The agencies recognized the deficiencies of CC&P’s effort and the need to improve the fate and transport model; therefore, they requested that ISWS develop this study.

This study addresses several key issues identified during the review that most likely affected the simulation results, and hence conclusions, that CC&P’s consultants reached. These issues can be categorized into three different focus areas: hydrology, hydraulics, and water quality. Accurate representation of hydrology (movement of water on land surface) and hydraulics (movement of water in a stream channel) is essential to effectively simulate the ethanol plume movement and timing through the system. Water quality parameters have a significant effect on simulated concentrations and timing of the event at downstream locations. This study will enhance the model in these three major focus areas with the objective to develop a model that more realistically simulates the impacts of the ethanol release on the Rock River system.

Illinois State Water Survey

2204 Griffith Dr
Champaign, IL 61820-7463

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