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North Country News
Fri September 13, 2013
Funding Restored for Some Stream Gauges
New York’s senior Senator has obtained funding to continue the operation of some gauges that are used to monitor water levels and predict stream and lake flooding.
The U.S. Geological Survey must discontinue operation of 375 stream gauges nationwide due to sequestration budget cuts. The gauges monitor water levels and are used to predict and address drought and flood conditions.
The Geological Survey lists 368 stream and river gauges in New York as “threatened or endangered” by sequestration cuts. New York Senator Charles Schumer recently announced that 21 high-priority gauges in the state will receive federal funding and not close as planned at the end of the month. Fifteen of those will receive long-term funding and the remaining six have been funded through at least 2014.
USGS New York Water Science Center Supervising Hydrologist Jerry Butch notes that the mission of the service is to protect lives and property.
Some of the gauges have been producing data for more than 100 years, which Butch notes gives them a data record of normal and abnormal water records.
The gauges are maintained by the Geological Survey, but data is used by a number of other agencies. National Weather Service Burlington Service Hydrologist Greg Hanson says it’s critical to keep the complete network intact.
There are hundreds of stream gauges in New York. The Department of Environmental Conservation Director of Water Quality Assessment Program Jeff Myers describes a number of uses, including flood control and protection.
The new funding that Senator Schumer announced does not include all of the state’s high-priority gauges. Jeff Myers says the DEC has been working with the USGS and partner agencies to prioritize gauges and their uses.
Senator Schumer is attempting to find permanent funding for all of the state’s stream gauges.