Water Resources Engineering and Science

The Water Resources Engineering and Science area of study prepares students for the planning, design, operation, and management of surface and ground water systems, preservation and enhancement of the natural river and watershed environment, design and construction of water control facilities, and conservation of water resources.

Degrees Offered

Learn More About the Water Resources Engineering and Science Program

Students in Water Resources Engineering and Science (WRES) benefit from a world-class faculty with diverse areas of expertise in the field of water resources science and engineering. Through cooperation with various departments, programs and researchers throughout the University, the WRES program offers students a comprehensive, multidisciplinary education, preparing them to address the complex water resources problems that will await them in their future careers.  

The WRES program offers outstanding facilities for computational, laboratory and field study. The 11,000-square-foot Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory features state-of-the-art facilities for research on environmental fluid mechanics & riverine, coastal estuarine morphodynamics. A unique course in field methods is offered in the summer academic session. WRES faculty lead the Critical Zone Observatory on Intensively Managed Landscapes (IML-CZO), one of the network of observatories funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the coupled hydrology, ecology, geomorphology, and biogeochemistry of the near surface environments. 

Students have the opportunity to engage in several major research programs of WRES faculty. The Critical Zone Observatory on Intensively Managed Landscapes (IML-CZO) conducts integrated field and modeling studies on processes in the Upper Sangamon River Basin in Illinois and Clear Creek in Iowa. Another noteworthy research focus of the WRES area is the Chicago area’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP), an ambitious public works project to control flooding and pollution in Lake Michigan and the Chicago River from sewer overflow. Illinois researchers are conducting ongoing research to optimize the operation of TARP and reduce flooding in the Chicago River, offering students opportunities for exposure to current, relevant research with significant human and environmental impact. WRES researchers are also playing a key role in the Center for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide, investigating the transport and fate of multiple fluids in the deep subsurface to ensure the safe long-term sequestration of CO2 captured from coal-fired power plants.

Other research and teaching interests of WRES faculty include:

  • Systems for freshwater supplies for urban, industrial, and agricultural use
  • Flood control and water hazard mitigation
  • Conventional and ‘green’ infrastructure for stormwater drainage of cities, highways, airports, and catchments
  • Preservation, conservation, and utilization of surface water and wetlands
  • Stream ecology and ecohydraulics
  • Erosion and sediment control
  • Erosion, transport and fate of contaminated sediments
  • Groundwater utilization, management, and remediation
  • Vadose zone experimentation and modeling
  • Operation of reservoirs and lakes
  • Planning and management of the hydrologic environment in response to human impact and potential global climate changes
  • Complex systems involving interaction between water, climate, vegetation, soils and anthropogenic processes

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