The United States Geological Survey (USGS) met with Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler on the bridge at the Gasconade in Jerome Thursday morning. The purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate how streamgauges work and their importance in collecting data for flood prediction, mapping, and other issues.
"After the floods that we've had in this area over the last several years, I wanted to see, personally, the stream gauges that have been so important to predicting the water flow and flooding, but were jeopardized due to some funding issues over the past year," Hartzler said.
The USGS was on hand to discuss the importance of the river gauges and the service they perform. Several gauges were in danger of losing their funding earlier this year, but the city of Waynesville, private organizations and businesses came together to continue to fund gauges locals use as an early warning system when it comes to flooding.
Fourteen gauges were in jeopardy, according to Harzler, and all have been funded through state, local, and private funding.
The gauge data is also a piece of the puzzle when it comes to compiling data for floodplain mapping and very important to help predict when rivers will crest and how high the rivers will become during a flooding event.
The Daily Guide asked the USGS about the gauge at Hazelgreen because there was a point in time where the gauge was offline. USGS representatives explained that the water rose high enough at Hazelgreen to short out the electronics and a crew had to be sent down to collect the data using temporary equipment during the most recent record flooding event.
USGS maintains 274 streamgauges in the state of Missouri and according to their records, 27 of those, or ten percent, saw record peaks during the May 2017 flooding.
The streamgauge at Jerome has been present since 1903 and data has been collected from it for over 100 years.
The USGS said that funding the streamgauges is an "annual process" and that our local streamgauges will have to be funded each year.
They also said that they'll be working with the Department of Natural Resources to look at the streamgauge network to ensure that their highest priority gauges were the ones they were funding. USGS said they plan to reach out to more organizations and entities for funding for the gauges so that they "don't have all their eggs in one basket."
The Daily Guide asked about the possibility of using individuals living near the rivers to help with river monitoring, but USGS said that it probably wasn't possible due to the nature of equipment and their standards and suggested that the information locals on the ground could provide would likely be information the National Weather Service could use, such as how accurate rising river level predictions are.
In response to media questions about whether there could be increased federal funding for streamgauges, Hartzler said she didn't think she necessarily saw more federal funding, but state, local, and private entity funding expanding in the future.