Three U.S. Geological Survey streamgages in Iowa, which measure streamflow and water level, will be shut down on Friday, May 17, due to the federal budget sequestration.
The affected Iowa streamgages will be discontinued beginning this Friday because of a five-percent sequestration-related budget cut to the USGS National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP). Of the 35 NSIP-funded streamgages in Iowa, 22 of which are fully funded by NSIP, the USGS Iowa Water Science Center selected the following three for shutdown:
- West Fork Cedar River at Finchford, Iowa (66 years of record)
- Des Moines River at Humboldt, Iowa (47 years of record)
- East Fork 102 River at Bedford, Iowa (29 years of record)
"It was difficult to make a selection that minimized all concerns, but these three Iowa streamgages will be shut down because they have comparatively short records, limited impacts on partner organizations, and their discontinuation is least likely to affect public safety," said USGS hydrologist Jon Nania.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), local communities may receive less accurate river flood forecasts and less advanced notice of flooding due to the shutdown of these streamgages. Communities that may be impacted include Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Fort Dodge, Finchford, and Bedford, Iowa, and Maryville, Mo.
"Streamgages like these help communities understand how and when to prepare for floods," said Jeff Zogg, a NWS Senior Hydrologist in Des Moines. "In some past floods, the peak streamflows measured by these gages have contributed several feet to the downstream crests."
Streamgages collect critical streamflow and water availability data that are used by organizations nationwide to predict and address drought and flood conditions. The USGS and over 850 federal, state, and local agencies cooperatively fund the USGS streamgaging network, which consists of over 8,000 streamgages.
The USGS will discontinue operation of no more than 200 streamgages nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration. Additional streamgages may be affected if partners reduce their funding to support USGS streamgages. The USGS is working to identify which streamgages will be impacted and will post this information online as it becomes available.
More information about streamgaging in Iowa is available on the USGS Iowa Water Science Center website.