Ten percent of that cost — $1 billion — would fund the entire USGS stream gage network for more than eight years, Freeman said.
Gages currently monitored the Boquet, Saranac, Ausable, Salmon and Great Chazy rivers where they reach the lake.
There are no gages currently at any interior points along either the Saranac or the Boquet rivers.
“We work closely with the State Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, with the National Weather Service and with emergency managers to provide the data to warn residents and keep them informed as conditions change,” Freeman said.
“These gages in the Lake Champlain basin were all funded by a federal earmark through Sen. (Patrick) Leahy’s office for many years. When earmarks went away in 2010, all that funding went away. Funding for NSIP was approved in 2009. But it’s currently funded at 20 percent. If fully funded, it would make a dramatic impact,” Freeman said.
The gages do more than measure water levels and pressure. Data going back in some cases more than 75 years also provides information about how the climate is changing, Norris said.
“Water quality and biological habitat assessment are other measures provided by stream-gage data,” Norris said.
“It is great to have the data there, but there’s no money to sustain the research.”
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Information about the stream-gage system, real-time data and threatened gages for each state is available online at: http://streamstatsags.cr.usgs.gov/ThreatenedGages/ThreatenedGages_seq.html.