September 11, 2013

Funding for some stream gauges restored


---- — WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-one high-priority lake and stream gauges will receive federal funding, staving off their planned closure on Oct. 1, including two in the North Country.

Sen. Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) confirmed that of those, 15 will receive long-term funding. The remaining six have been funded through 2014 at minimum.

Information collected at stream gauges provides the scientific basis for protecting, managing and sustaining fresh-water bodies, with real-time information designed to protect communities and minimize loss of life and property from water hazards, including floods, droughts and debris flows.

Stream gauges are used by the National Weather Service to provide flood forecasting and warning information.

The stream gauges in this area that will receive long-term funding past 2014 are the stations at Perry’s Mills on the Great Chazy River; on the Little Ausable River, near Valcour; and on Lake Champlain, north of Whitehall.

The stream gauge located in Rouses Point, where Lake Champlain flows northward into the Richelieu River, was not included on the list of saved devices 

The U.S. Geological Survey recently identified long-term funding sources that would be used to keep open 21 of New York’s highest-priority stream gauges.

Schumer noted that this does not include all of New York’s high-priority gauges and said he will continue fighting to find permanent funding for others.

He has lobbied for full funding of New York’s existing 200-plus stream and river gauges, and he recently urged that more gauges be installed in Upstate New York.

“We have learned from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, Superstorm Sandy and the summer flooding in Upstate New York that we cannot shortchange programs that our communities rely on to keep their citizens safe and well-informed and help first responders plan flood responses,” Schumer said in a news release.

“As recent flooding and natural disasters have shown, funding stream gauges is a critical and comparatively minor investment relative to the cost of repairing and rebuilding after a flood for which a community did not have time to prepare.”

The Geological Service, in consultation with the National Weather Service and other partners, evaluated the entire New York stream network to prioritize gauge use, with an emphasis on those that provide information needed for flood forecast and warning.

Through this effort, stream gauges were rated and the network evaluated to determine if funds could be shifted from low- to high-priority devices.

The Geological Service then worked with several funding partners, the release said, including the State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Canal Corporation, Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Lake Champlain Basin Program, to build long-term support for operation of the most critical stream gauges in the state.