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November 29, 2023

The “centennial observing station” recognition —which includes streamgages for the first time—is part of an effort to maintain long-term earth observations around the world 

RESTON, VA — This year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recognized the cultural importance and scientific heritage of three USGS-operated centennial streamgages located in Oregon, Kentucky, and New Mexico when they expanded their international recognition program to include hydrological stations for the first time. 


The formal recognition by the WMO is a nod to the “irreplaceable” contributions of these three active USGS streamgages which have each been in operation for more than 100 years. The intent is to showcase the valuable contributions made by long-term streamgages to scientific understanding about connections between long-term weather and environmental trends and patterns, including floods and droughts.  


The three USGS centennial streamgages comprise half the recognized locations in North America and are among the first 22 WMO centennial streamgages worldwide. The newly recognized gages are located on the Columbia River at The Dalles, Oregon, the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky, and the Rio Grande at Embudo, New Mexico. Notably, the streamgage on the Rio Grande at Embudo, New Mexico was USGS’s inaugural streamgage, established in 1889.  


The three streamgages recognized by the WMO designation are not the only USGS streamgages of cultural and scientific significance to long-term earth observations.  The USGS also has its own Centennial Streamgage program to recognize those that have been in use for at least 100 years. These streamgages tell the story of the water conditions they measure over the past century and are essential to understanding the climate system and its changes. As of 2023, USGS operates 848 active streamgages that were established over 100 years ago. 


About USGS Streamgages 

A streamgage is a mechanism that measures water levels and flows in rivers and streams. The observational data gathered from the streamgages can be used to monitor droughts and floods, track water supply, and project future streamflows. USGS provides near real-time data of its streamgages through the USGS National Water Dashboard


By having data that spans over 100 years, centennial streamgages can show climate variability and help predict future changes. They are essential to science-based observations on extreme weather hazards and climate change. 


More information on the uses and history of streamgages can be found on the USGS streamflow monitoring website or on the USGS gages through the ages website. 

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The USGS provides science for a changing world. Learn more at or follow us on Facebook @USGeologicalSurvey, YouTube @USGS, Instagram @USGS, or Twitter @USGS.  

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