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New USGS Streamgages Provide Flood Monitoring for Additional Philadelphia Neighborhoods

February 28, 2017

Philadelphia communities along the Schuylkill River and Darby Creek now have new tools to help inform residents of impending flooding. The U.S. Geological Survey recently installed three new streamgages in Manayunk, Eastwick, and downtown near 30th St., which will monitor water levels, and provide vital data used by emergency managers and flood forecasters to help protect lives and property. 

A USGS Hydrologic Technician installs a new streamgage
U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Technician Patrick Anzman installs a new streamgage February 23 over the Schuylkill River in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk. Photo by Mason Manis, USGS. ​​​​​​​(Public domain.)

Real-time streamflow information from these new gauges will be added to an already existing network of nine streamgages, which monitor surface water in multiple watersheds within the city, providing valuable water resource information for Philadelphia officials and residents. The USGS installed these new streamgages in cooperation with the Philadelphia Water Department at the request of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management.

“There is an effort by Philadelphia city officials to have multiple points of coverage for water monitoring,” said Kirk White, USGS Hydrologist. “Adding these extra gauges to the existing network enhances the city’s ability to alert the public to what is going on during a flood emergency.”

This ability to warn citizens of flooding is important, especially in the vicinity of Darby Creek near Eastwick, and Schuylkill River near the 30th St. gauge.

“An important aspect of these gauges is they’re in a tidal area,” White said. “If there is elevated flow in the Schuylkill River or Darby Creek, it might not be a problem unless there is also an incoming tide, so being able to monitor the river is crucial.”

There are approximately 350 USGS-operated streamgages in Pennsylvania that can measure water levels, streamflow and rainfall. Streamgages provide continuous scientific data about water in the nation’s rivers. In addition to providing critical information needed to forecast floods, the real-time information these gauges provide helps decision makers assess the availability and quantity of water supplies, which is especially useful in times of drought. Scientists use this information to understand how natural processes, human activities and climate variability affect streams.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk, and for many recreational activities.

Access current streamflow, flood, or drought conditions across the country by visiting USGS WaterWatch. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert.  View water data on your mobile device. Learn how a USGS streamgage works.