The Office of Water Resources Director is responsible for the overall management of the Office, including policy, personnel, and fiscal control.
Directors of the Past
Superintendent William L. Sackett
The history of the Office of Water Resources can be traced back to 1823 when the Illinois Legislature formed the Illinois Michigan Canal Commission. The Office as it is known today was organized in 1917 when the Civil Administrative Code combined the authorities Canal Commissioners, the Rivers and Lakes Commission and the Illinois Waterway Commission. William L. Sackett became the first Superintendent of Waterways (1917-25) with a salary $5000.
Superintendent Sackett was born May 21st, 1866. Mr. Sackett's loyalty and untiring devotion to waterways and the State's interest and duty to the people in protecting public waters from encroachment and pollution, and in furthering the development and early completion of the Illinois Waterway won for him the admiration and respect of all factions. This together with his genial disposition, courtesy and unfailing consideration for his subordinates endeared him to all of his associates in the Division of Waterways. He was considered one of the leading authorities in the State in waterway development problems, and was one of the leading spirits behind the Lakes to Gulf Waterway development, which he advocated wholeheartedly during his entire administration of office.
Mr. Sackett was appointed Chief Clerk and Pay Master of the Illinois & Michigan Canal by Governor Tanner in 1897, and was appointed Canal Commissioner in 1902 by Governor Yates. His services as Commissioner continued until 1913 when Governor Dunne appointed a Democrat, but Mr. Sackett was reappointed by Governor Lowden, and succeeded to the office of Superintendent of Waterways in July 1917, when the present Civil Administrative Code organizing the Division of Waterways came into effect. Mr. Sackett held the position of Superintendent of Waterways through the Lowden administration and Governor Small's administration until his death.
The Honorable William Loren Sackett died at 1:15 o'clock in the morning of December 16th, 1924, of pulmonary embolus, following an operation on November 21st. (Excerpted from the State of Illinois, Division of Waterways, Annual Reports 8-12, 1924-1929)
M. G. Barnes, Chief Engineer, was labelled "Head of Division" of the Division of Waterways from "December 16, 1924 to June 30, 1925." with L. D. Cornish as Assistant Chief Engineer. Work that year progressed on the Lockport Lock, the Illinois Waterway, and repairs of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Pollution of streams with sewage, oil and dairy products was noted extensively. The Design Section of Waterways at that time included Chief Designing Engineer Walter M. Smith, just two Assistant Engineers and two draftsmen (one of whom resigned).
William F. Mulvihill was named Superintendent of Waterways September 1, 1925.
The Illinois Legislature created the Department of Purchases and Construction July 1, 1925 in order to enable the design and construction of the Illinois Waterway. Leslie C. Small of Kankakee was named the Director of Purchases and Construction with a $7000 salary. In past times, the streams of Illinois were used mainly as sources of water supply for man or beast and as highways of transportation and communication but by 1916 the Illinois and Michigan Canal had very little traffic at all due to inadequate ability of the Illinois Waterway to haul freight competitively. Some of the authority formerly vested in the Illinois Waterway Commission was assigned to the newly created Department to enable the design and construction of the Illinois Waterway, with the provision that its powers become void upon completion of the project. The Marseilles Lock and Dam when completed was 600 feet long and as wide as the Panama Canal. The new Lockport Lock and Dam had the distinction of having the highest lift of any lock of its size in the world, 41 feet.
Director Leslie C. Small
The Illinois Legislature created the Department of Purchases and Construction in 1925 in order to enable the design and construction of the Illinois Waterway. Under his father, Gov. Len Small, Leslie C. Small of Kankakee was named the Director of Purchases and Construction with a $7000 salary. Leslie C. Small was also the publisher of the Kankakee Daily Journal from 1913 to his death Jan 11, 1957 at age 70, and began publishing the Ottawa Republican-Times in 1955. Director Small was a Delegate to the Republican National Convention from Illinois in 1944. He was a member of the commission which designed the Stateville Penitentiary.
In past times, the streams of Illinois were used mainly as sources of water supply for man or beast and as highways of transportation and communication but by 1916 the Illinois and Michigan Canal had very little traffic at all due to inadequate ability of the Illinois Waterway to haul freight competitively. Some of the authority formerly vested in the Illinois Waterway Commission was assigned to the newly created Department to enable the design and construction of the Illinois Waterway, with the provision that its powers become void upon completion of the project. The Marseilles Lock and Dam when completed was 600 feet long and as wide as the Panama Canal. The new Lockport Lock and Dam had the distinction of having the highest lift of any lock of its size in the world, 41 feet.
Chief Engineer T. B. Cornish
L.D. Cornish served as Chief Engineer of the Division of Waterways of the Department of Purchases and Construction, from 1927 till 1933. In 1929 he issued a flood control report with W. F. Mulvihill on the flood situation in Illinois.
Charles Herrick Hammond (1882-1969) of Chicago served as Supervising Architect of Illinois Waterway Construction in 1933 and was Supervising Architect of the State of Illinois from 1929 - 1952. In 1929 & 1930 he was President of the AIA. Hammond was also the architect for: Eastern Illinois University's Health Education Building, Booth Library, and Science Building; Northern Illinois University's Williston Hall and Adams Hall, Illinois State University's Williams Hall and Jesse E. Rambo Home Management House; and part of the architectural firm Burnham and Hammond who were the architects for the Carbide and Carbon building at 230 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Other projects include the reconstruction of the village at New Salem State Park and Abraham Lincoln's home there, the restoration of the Cahokia Court House and the Springfield Memorial Hospital.
Chief Engineer Walter M. Smith Sr.
Walter M. Smith Sr. served as Bureau Chief of Design Section from 1929 to 1932 and Assistant Chief Engineer from 1932-34. In 1933 the Department of Purchases and Construction was abolished and the Division of Waterways was again made part of the Department of Public Works and Buildings. Acting Chief Engineer Walter M. Smith became Chief Engineer June 1934.
Walter M. Smith was a very successful civil engineer and was about to retire in Chicago, IL in 1938. He was educated at in Civil Engineering at The Citadel, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina. He was born circa 1866 at Spartanburg, South Carolina. He married Nettie Babcock McDonald in 1889. Walter M. Smith and Nettie Babcock McDonald resided in 1938 at 5919 Midway Park, Chicago, IL. With Walter M. Smith, Jr. He authored "Concrete Bridges: Some Important Features in Their Design.", "Bridges: Some Important Features in Their Design." and "Concrete: Some Important Features in Their Design." in 1914.
The waterway project completed, Waterways turned its attention to surveying the boundaries of Lake Michigan and Wolf Lake, determining the divide between private encroaching lands, and the public lands in holding for everyone. Collection, compilation and dissemination of information on river flow led to agreements with the US Geological Survey to set up stream gaging programs that are still going today. Swampland draining and the creation of drainage districts to reclaim farmlands continued as well.
Walter M. Smith, D. Sc., retired as Chief Engineer of Waterways in 1937, being succeeded by Carter Jenkins of Springfield until 1943. Thomas B. Casey, Bureau Chief of Rivers & Lakes control since 1937, became Acting Chief Waterway Engineer in 1943.
Chief Engineer Carter Jenkins
Chief Engineer Thomas B. Casey
As Principal Engineer Thomas B. Casey recommended the current Hofmann Dam in the 1950s.
In 1943, highway and all other purely civilian improvements had to be subordinated to more vital national needs for the duration of the war. Approximately 80% of the Division of Waterways' work came under war related activity, including maintenance and operation of 14 movable and 23 fixed bridges on the Illinois waterway between Lockport and Grafton. Much war material was being water-shipped and hundreds of naval vessels built in Great Lakes shipyards (including gigantic submarines)were navigated down the waterway to outfitting ports. Flood control work along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, especially in the vicinity of war production industries. Cooperation in solving drainage problems affecting agricultural lands, public utilities and war industries such as channel improvements, and channel changes. Cooperation with State and Federal civilian defense agencies in blacking out bridges, etc. Protection of vital water control structures, such as dams, gates and weirs on various public waters.
Post war projects emphasized flood control. Chief Engineer Thomas B. Casey remained head of the Division of Waterways until 1963 to be succeeded by John C. Guillou.
Born in 1893 in Colorado he graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in engineering. He served as an Army Lt in WW I. The Casey family relocated to Springfield from Chicago in 1938. Thomas B. Casey passed away in 1968.
Director John C. Guillou
Director Guillou served until 1973, overseeing the transition from the Department of Public Works to the newly created Department of Transportation in 1972. For a time the Office was known as the Office of Water Resource Management.
In 1973 American Public Works Association named him as one of the Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year.
Research Associate, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), 1946-47, Highway drainage research report, 1947-49, Guillou, John C., 1951-58
Life Member of the Illinois American Waterworks Association.
Director Leo M. Eisel
From 1971 to 1973 Dr. Eisel was a staff scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund in New York. He served for a year as a research associate in the U.S. State Department's Aid for International Development program, which included work in Pakistan. He headed the Illinois Division of Water Resources (then the Division of Waterways) under Democratic Gov. Dan Walker, and was chosen as head of the EPA by Republican Gov. James R. Thompson in 1977. From 1977 to 1980 he was the director of the U.S. Water Resources Council.
Dr. Eisel received his Ph.D. in engineering from Harvard University in 1970, a master's degree in hydrology from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a bachelor's degree in forestry from Colorado State University.
Dr. Eisel was a member of the Water Science and Technology Board, and a member of the Committee to Review the Metropolitan Washington Area Water Supply Study, the Committee on Flood Control Alternatives in the American River Basin, and the Committee on Western Water Management. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Water Science and Technology Board and received the National Groundwater Association Honorary Member Award. Dr. Eisel is broadly experienced in water supply and planning, flood control, and hydrologic engineering.
During his Water Resources tenure, the soft-spoken Eisel gained a reputation for his ability to bargain with legislators in highly political situations. One House member, East Alton Democrat John F. Sharp, called Eisel "the best director I've ever seen," after a flood control project sought by his district for 40 years was finally contracted. "He doesn't act like a dictator like some of these directors. He'll stick with you no matter what if he feels you've got a good proposal," Sharp said. *
Leo Eisel was president of McLaughlin Water Engineers in Denver, CO, until in 1999 he left McLaughlin Water Engineers, Ltd. to begin working with Brown and Caldwell in Colorado.
Dr. Eisel serves as an Adjunct Professor (ground and surface water supply, water resources planning and management, flood plain analysis) for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Director Frank Kudrna
Dr. Kudrna was appointed Director of the Division of Water Resources, of the Illinois Department of Transportation (now the Office of Water Resources, IDNR), by Director John Kramer effective November 14 1978. Kudrna was Director of Planning and Flood Control for the Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District.
Dr. Kudrna received a B.S. in Engineering at the Chicago Technical College, an M.S. and Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning at the Illinois Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago.
He has been chairman of the Illinois delegation to the Great Lakes Commission, an organization that coordinates economic and environmental activities involving the eight Great Lakes states, for over 20 years. Dr. Frank Kudrna is currently president of the civil engineering firm Kudrna & Associates Ltd. in Chicago. He serves on the Great Lakes Commission, the NIPC Water Resources Advisory Committee as well as the Task Force on Global Climate Change, the Du Page County Regional Planning Commission, the Illinois Climate Change Task Force, was elected Chair of the National Sea Grant Review Panel in 1999, and formerly was director of the Illinois Division of Water Resources.
He received the National Academy of Environmental Engineers Superior Achievement for Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award in 1996. In 2000, Dr. Kudrna received the ASCE Professional Recognition Award at the age of 54, Citizen's Engineer of the Year in 2005, and was inducted as a Fellow in the Society of American Military Engineers in 1999. This award has been presented to only 430 individuals in the country.
Director Don R. Vonnahme, P.E.
As the Director of IDNR/OWR, Don was responsible for the regulation of all construction in the floodways of the rivers, lakes and streams of Illinois; the administration of structural and nonstructural flood control programs; statewide water supply planning; the management of Illinois & Lake Michigan diversion; and, he was the trustee of the public waters of the state and their submerged beds.
He chairs or is a member of numerous Task Forces and Commissions such as the Illinois State Water Plan Task Force, the Illinois Drought Task Force, the Great Lakes Commission, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association and the Ohio River Basin Commission. Don is a member of the Board of Directors of the Interstate Council on Water Policy, and he also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies.
Previously, he was employed as a Hydraulic Engineer and in 1976, Deputy Director of the Illinois Division of Water Resources in the Department of Transportation for a year under Director Leo Eisel and then Director Frank Kudrna from 1977 until 1982.
He has been recognized with numerous professional development and management awards, given by both the National and Illinois Societies of Professional Engineers, as well as the Excellence in Flood Hazard Management Award, given by the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
Don holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois with specialties in Hydraulics, Hydrology and Economics (1964).
Don retired from the State of Illinois in January 2003.
Director Gary R. Clark, P.E.
Mr. Clark started his career as a civil engineer with the State of Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Water Resources in 1974. On July 1, 2003, Mr. Clark was appointed as the Director of the Office of Water Resources. During his career with the Office of Water Resources, Mr. Clark has served as the Chief of the Planning and Research Section and as manager of the Division of Program Development. During his career, his areas of professional responsibilities included the administration and conduct of research and planning in the areas of instream flow protection, statewide water supply management, groundwater modeling, drought management, groundwater and surface water law and state water planning. Mr. Clark is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, with a B.S. Civil Engineering in 1972, and a M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1974. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois and Wisconsin. In June of 2005 Mr. Clark was credentialed as a Diplomat, Water Resources Engineer by the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers.
Mr. Clark has authored publications and papers on groundwater law, water supply management, groundwater modeling and instream flow protection. He has participated actively in the drafting of Illinois statutes for groundwater quality and quantity management. Mr. Clark serves as the State of Illinois representative to the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association and the Ohio River Basin Commission. He also serves as the agencies representative to the Governors State Water Plan Task Force and has served as president of the Illinois Groundwater Association and the Illinois Section of the American Water Resources Association.
Director Arlan R. Juhl, P.E.
Arlan joined the Office of Water Resources in 1973 as an engineer and became Division Manager of Planning in 2003.
Arlan received the USGS John Wesley Powell Award in 2006 and the Lake County Stormwater Manager of the Year award in 2010.
Arlan assumed the duties of Director Jan. 1 2011 and departed December 2014.