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From Gage to Page: A Look Into How USGS Helps You Know the Flow

Knowing the streamflow of a river is important for many. For example, irrigators need to know how the water can be allocated to fields, boaters need to know if the river is safe to float, and municipalities need to know how much supply will be at their intakes.

The USGS, often with cooperative funding from its partners, provides streamflow information to the public through the web. Many steps are required to allow you to access real-time flow data from a streamgage that can be hundreds of miles away at just the click of a button.

The steps involved in getting the data to your fingertips, generally include:

  1. Establishing a streamgage
  2. Measuring the streamflow (discharge)
  3. Creating a stage-discharge relation
  4. Transmitting data via satellites to computer systems and onto the web
streamgaging and data transmission
 Equipment and activites critical to streamgage operation.