Federal Funds Grow Idaho's Streamgaging Network

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The new streamgage on the Pack River was paid for through federal funds, along with ten new streamgages around the state. - U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • The new streamgage on the Pack River was paid for through federal funds, along with ten new streamgages around the state.

Most river users are well-versed in the water flows of Idaho's rivers. The river discharge is measured in cubic feet per second (cfs), and right now for example, the Boise River is flowing at 553 cfs. Water flows are to rafters what snow reports are to skiers. But paddlers, outfitters and guides aren't the only ones that look closely at river flows. Local, state and federal officials closely track Idaho's water flows through more than 200 real-time streamgages to forecast floods and allocate water.

With the help of $141,000 from Congress, the U.S. Geological Survey is investing in 10 new streamgages throughout the state to help track crucial river flows. Congress allotted a total of $6 million for the USGS National Streamflow Information Program, which helps populate data nationwide and helps manage water at the federal, state and local levels.

A news release from the USGS Idaho Water Science Center states the importance of tracking the data, not only to save money by ensuring water is appropriately allocated to agricultural irrigation and hydroelectric production, but also in helping to save lives and protect communities against flooding.

"USGS streamgages are a critical component of our river forecast and flood warning program," said National Weather Service hydrologist Katherine Rowden in the news release. "The data provided by streamgages on the Pack River near Colburn and the St. Joe River at St. Maries will help us deliver forecasts and warnings to those areas."

Other locations for the new streamgages include one on the Snake River near Murphy and one on the Lost Little River near Howe.