The first USGS streamgage in the country is turning 125 years old, and the U.S. Geological Survey, along with many partner agencies, is commemorating the event on Tuesday, April 22, with a celebration at the Embudo streamgage near Espanola. New Mexico State Engineer Scott Verhines and USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball will join a number of federal, state and local officials at a ceremony to recognize the device that set the foundation for modern water management.
Reporting river flows is a matter of public safety, environmental protection, and wise economic development. USGS streamgage data is used to forecast floods and droughts, manage flood flows, deliver water supplies, establish water rights, and protect threatened aquatic habitats. Thousands of boaters and fishermen also access the data every day to plan recreational outings.
Drive three miles north of the town of Velarde. At the Embudo Station sign, turn left on to the bridge over the Rio Grande. Park once over the bridge and walk to the event tent. Image shows the exact location.
Situated 43 miles from Santa Fe, Embudo was selected as the site of the first gaging station because of the need for systematic water resource assessments of western states. Embudo not only offered a favorable climate and easy rail access, an important consideration for transporting the imperative scientific and camp equipment, but qualified for congressional funding tapped specifically for the “arid West.”
Today, More than 247 million daily observations from 26,000 streamgages are available through the USGS National Water Information System, including those first Embudo recordings in 1889. The USGS operates 4,461 stations with more than 30 years of record, and 8,024 gages comprise the U.S. streamgage network today.
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