The New England WSC Hydrologic Monitoring Program - December 2020

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The Hydrologic Monitoring Program (HMP) conducts hydrologic surveillance and investigation in all six New England States. 

The HMP consists of four offices in New England and is responsible for maintaining a wide range of hydrologic surveillance activities related to the following: collection and analysis of surface-water discharge and stage; groundwater levels; precipitation; tides; and continuous water-quality information, including water temperature and specific conductance. Currently, the HMP operates more than 450 surface-water gages, 300 ground water wells, 20 tide gages, 30 crest-stage gages, and 70 precipitation gages. The HMP includes about 50 employees in four offices and five organizational units. 

Map of real-time streamflow conditions at USGS gaging sites in New England from the National Water Dashboard, December 10, 2020

Map of real-time streamflow conditions at U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gaging sites in New England from the USGS National Water Dashboard, December 10, 2020 (Public domain.)

In addition to long-term network activities, the program conducts short-term (days to multiyear) data-collection activities for methods development, short-term investigations, and documentation of important hydrologic events including flooding and droughts. During the recent drought, the HMP ensured real-time data remained accurate for decision makers by making more than 350 targeted measurements, in addition to regularly scheduled measurements, from June through September, while following water science center, USGS, and U.S. Department of Interior guidelines for field work during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measurements confirmed stage-discharge relationships, defined new low-end shifts, and helped with estimates for aquatic growth that were worsened by the drought. In addition, Center staff attended close to 30 State drought committee/task force meetings, presenting and discussing hydrologic conditions with a variety of local, State and Federal partners. 

The HMP is currently evaluating large-scale particle image velocimetry (LSPIV) as an alternative method for streamflow monitoring. LSPIV is a developing technology in the USGS, that uses video of moving water to compute surface velocities which can be correlated to a surveyed or assumed cross-sectional area to compute discharge values. When operational, LSPIV will improve flood-response activities.