Streamflow Gauges: Silent Sentinels

Jun 11, 2012

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection recently announced changes to its stream flow and snow monitoring network, stemming from a new alliance with the National Weather Service aimed toward improving streamflow forecasting.

Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports on the importance of stream gauges in weather forecasting and flood control...

The U.S. Geological Service New York Water Science Center operates a 250-site satellite network of stream gaging stations in the state, many of which form the backbone of flood-warning systems. The gauges are funded by other federal, state and local agencies, with matching USGS funds. Some of the gauges are being phased out - including six maintained by the USGS in partnership with the DEP.

Each gauge is regarded as a valuable source of information in its service area, providing data used by citizens including fishermen, boaters and white water rafters as well as by local governments for planning and flood forecasting, among other uses.

Nationally, there approx. 8000 stream gauges in operation. The gauges give climatologists valuable information Data obtained by the devices is passed along to other agencies, including the National Weather Service, which uses the numbers to help forecast rain and flood probabilities.  For the Silent sentinels to maintain their vigils the cost is measured in dollars and man-hours. (See How a streamgage works:

DEP claims it will save more than $80,000 a year by eliminating funding for the six gauges : two in Ulster County, three in Delaware County and one in Putnam County - the DEP is going to install a new stream gauge in the Lower Esopus in Lomontville, Ulster County.

Some gauges in the network have been operational for 100 years or more.    Three of the silent sentinels were lost during the 2011 floods.  

More Information:

Video 106 "Streamgages The Silent Superhero" at

Uses of streamgage information:

National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP):

In New York:
Real-time map
Drought Page
Flood Page
Monthly Hydrologic Conditions
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