“Watershed organizations use them regularly. Towns use them during flood events to determine whether municipalities are at risk during flood events. Kayakers and canoeists use gages to determine if the water is too high or too low.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses data from the gages during late summer and early autumn to plan its annual lamprey-treatment program in Lake Champlain tributaries and deltas.
Officials can’t treat if streams are too high or too low, and knowing the flow of streams helps determine how much lampricide to use during applications.
Scientists are also interested in stream-gage data in identifying the flow of phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients into Lake Champlain. Increased levels of nutrients promote plant growth in the lake, including higher potential for dangerous blue-green algae blooms.
The U.S. Geological Survey website includes updated information water flow and height at each station.
For instance, a gage on the Ausable River near AuSable Forks showed a dramatic rise of several feet in the water level on June 28, when heavy rains caused flash flooding in the area.
New York stations slated to be closed by March 1, 2014, include those on the Great Chazy and Little Chazy rivers, the Salmon River south of Plattsburgh, the Little Ausable River, Putnam Creek near Crown Point and one in Lake Champlain near Whitehall.
All of those sites have been in operation for at least 16 years, with the Great Chazy River having been active for 69 years.
At this point, a stream gage at the Saranac River being funded by the National Weather Service will remain in operation, as will stations on the Ausable and Boquet rivers being funding by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Also, Vermont will continue to operate more than 20 stations with help from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The City of Montpelier funds two stations on the Winooski River.