Illinois Drought: Illinois Drought Task Force Meeting Minutes, July 7, 2005, Illinois State Water Survey

Illinois Drought


Summary of the Drought Response Task Force Meeting Number 1 - July 7, 2005

The Drought Response Task Force (DRTF) held its first meeting in the Board Room, IDNR Headquarters on Thursday, July 7, 2005. The following were present at the meeting or participated by teleconference:

Governor’s Office

Jill Hayden

Kristin Richards

Lt. Governor’s Office

Katie McClain

Marc Miller

CMS - Public Information

Gayle Simpson


Steve Chard

Tom Jennings


Gene Beyer

Ray Pilapil

John V. Stutsman

IEPA Public Water Supplies

Richard Breckenridge

Dave McMillan

Roger Selburg


Bob Cowles

Jerry Dalsin

Gary Flentge

IDNR Director’s Office

Joel Brunsvold

Leslie A. Sgro

IDNR Fisheries

Steve Pallo

IDNR Resource Conservation

Debbie Bruce

IDNR State Water Survey

Jim Angel

Vern Knapp

Ken Kunkel

Amy Russell

Bob Scott

Al Wehrmann

Derek Winstanley

IDNR Water Resources

Gary R. Clark

Frank Pisani


Doug Bailey

Bill Graff

Jim Ross


Bob Holmes

Charlyn Fargo from the State Journal Register along with several other representatives from the PRESS were also present during the meeting.

The Governor made the decision to activate the DRTF on June 26, 2005 following a recommendation by the DRTF co-chairs, Gary Clark and Roger Selburg. This recommendation was made following a drought assessment report given by the State Water Survey at the quarterly State Water Plan Task Force meeting held on June 21.

Co-Chairs, Gary Clark and Roger Selburg convened this first DRTF meeting at 1:30 p.m with attendees introducing themselves and the agency/division they represent.

Derek Winstanley provided a 4-page drought summary report referencing 8 figures (maps and tables) of water and climate data which had been sent electronically to DRTF representatives the day before. The U.S. Drought Monitor on July 5 showed an area encompassing the north-central and northeastern portions of the state to be in an “extreme” drought situation and the rest of Illinois classified to be in a “moderate” or “severe” drought. Derek mentioned that drought classifications by various agencies may differ slightly due to different thresholds being used though the data is the same. The March - June period was the 3rd driest period recorded in Illinois, which is about 7.6 inches below the statewide average or almost 50% below normal. Above normal temperatures in June have exacerbated the effects with soil moisture, river flows and groundwater levels continuing to decline. While Hurricane Dennis may bring some rainfall to southern Illinois, it is not expected to bring much rain to northern Illinois. Thus it is probable that the drought will continue to worsen. Derek mentioned that data shows about a 60% probability of a dry and warm summer following a dry spring.

The State Water Survey has created a new web page for accessing drought data, reports, and press releases and can be found at This web page will be used to contain the detailed data reports provided from the various agencies comprising the DRTF. All ISWS updates will be available on this web site. Derek requested other agencies to send hot-links or copies of any drought-related updates that they release which could then be included on the ISWS web site, making for a comprehensive drought data location for DRTF reports.

Roger Selburg provided a 6-page Community Water Supply Drought Report detailing supply conditions and issues of the surface and groundwater public water systems they regulate, as reported by their six regional offices. Overall, Roger stated that the quantity of raw water available for these public water supply systems is not an issue at this time. The water systems are designed to handle normal water usage. Problems begin to develop when heavy irrigation demands (e.g., lawn watering) occur above the normal usage. Roger mentioned that their office is also tracking water sales to private owners. Dave McMillan reported that water restriction and conservation measures (even/odd day watering) have been employed on some systems and these measures appear to be effective as efforts to keep lawns green appear to be diminishing. Roger stated that they will pay special attention to those water supply systems which appear to be getting into trouble.

Gary Flentge reported that they are seeing an increase in the number of wells being installed or wells being deepened, which is a general indicator of drought conditions. A total of six new wells have been drilled and 3 wells have been deepened due to the drought. Gary mentioned that six counties have shown an increase in water hauling activities. The regional public health offices will continue monitoring these activities.

Steve Chard provided a crop weather report for the period ending July 3rd. The state average topsoil moisture report was 57 percent “very short” and 34 percent “short”. The corn crop condition is rated 37 % very poor to poor and 38 % rated as fair. The soybean crop was rated 27 % very poor to poor and 48 % fair. Most areas are in desperate need of rain to unroll corn leaves and get soybeans blooming. Steve mentioned that corn is in the critical pollination period and that beans are several weeks away. Without replenishing rains the yields will be significantly impacted. Steve mentioned that no livestock problems have been reported but expect that they will issue an animal advisories alert to address animal care. By the end of the meeting Steve reported that 89 counties had filed “flash reports” on estimated crop losses. The IDOA is communicating daily with the USDA Farm Service Agency. The Governor can request a USDA government assisted disaster declaration.

Steve Pallo reported some minor fish kills at the nuclear power cooling lakes at LaSalle and Braidwood. Overall, lake levels appear to be fine. There have been some reported fish kills in ponds as a result of oxygen depletion due to excessive algae and heat, and also in segments of small streams due to low flows.

Gary Clark reported that the Mississippi River is at above normal levels since this drought is limited to a band extending south from Lake Michigan and across Illinois, with much of the drainage area west of the Mississippi having experienced above normal precipitation. Gary mentioned that navigation on the Illinois River is not being significantly impeded. There are a few “bump and go” reports of barges hitting sand spots. Part of this problem could also be the result of barges “over drafting” in an effort to ship as much commodity as possible in anticipation of expected lower river levels this summer. Gary mentioned that the water release from the Chain-of Lakes is being maintained to afford water supply for Elgin and Aurora. There have been some significant drops in flows on the Rock River causing some hydro power issues. The Office of Water Resources is monitoring water supply withdrawals having permitted protected flow conditions.

Gene Beyer said that while the ICC does not regulate electric generation, municipal electric companies or electric cooperatives, the ICC will monitor the status of the generators through contacts with (a) the electric utilities and (b) the regional transmission organizations that operate in Illinois, PJM and MISO. PJM has begun a survey of electricity generators to determine if there are anticipated problems. Gene said they have contacted Ameren, Com-Ed and Mid-America Energy Company, and have received no drought-related problems to report. The ICC also does not regulate municipal electric systems and electric cooperatives, but will work with organizations representing those entities to gather information related to drought conditions.

Ray Pilapil stated that the ICC regulates 44 investor-owned water utilities serving approximately 350,000 customers statewide. Ray provided an assessment of the effects of the drought on these water utilities. He contacted the three largest utilities which are as follows: Illinois-American Water Company serving 267,000 customers, Aqua Illinois serving 55,000 customers, and Utilities, Inc. serving 15,000 customers. These utilities collectively serve 98% of the investor-owned water utilities’ customers in the state. The three utilities reported that the drought has caused some water restrictions to be implemented and some main breaks have occurred caused by increased pressures related to the high demand. Ray said they will continue to monitor these systems weekly.

Bob Holmes provided several handouts depicting current streamflow conditions which can be accessed for the latest information at the following links:

In summary, while there is no significant watch list at this time, the State is clearly experiencing stressed conditions. The agencies should continue to closely monitor the drought and provide weekly updates to Gary Clark and Roger Selburg. The next DRTF meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 22 @ 1:30 p.m., IDNR Headquarters - 3rd Floor - Board Room.

Illinois Drought

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