Missouri may avoid cutbacks to streamflow gauging stations

Dec 21, 2011

Hundreds of “streamflow gauges” that are used to monitor rising water levels across the nation are in danger of being shut down – but Missouri’s gauge stations may avoid that fate. 

Streamflow gauges monitor rising water levels connected with flooding – and they have other uses such as monitoring the availability of water as a resource. This week the nonprofit news service stateline-dot-org reported that the United States Geological Survey – or USGS – has identified more than 580 stations nationally that are endangered because of budget cutbacks.

Mike Slifer is the director of the USGS Missouri Water Science Center. He says Missouri has about 240 streamflow gauging stations that are funded through a patchwork of local, state and federal partnerships. And he says while those partnerships and their funding sources can sometimes be precarious, Missouri’s funding for the gauges has remained consistent even as many states are facing cutbacks to streamflow gauging systems. "In the past,there has been potential issues as state funding has risen and following, one of the things that’s always looked at is the gauging program. The state of Missouri has pretty much recognized the importance of information on water resources and has been pretty consistent, even in up-and-down funding years, in funding those gauges that they partner with us on."

Mike Norris, chief of the National Streamflow Information Program, which coordinates a network of thousands of gauging stations nationally, says states like Missouri that have had recent flooding sometimes are more reluctant to cut funding to streamflow gauging.