Stream Gage Funding Held Hostage - Your Help Needed
The USGS is once again threatening to stop operating stream gages in the Champlain Basin. The notice on their website reads, “The U.S.Geological Survey (USGS) will discontinue operation of up to 375 streamgages nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration. Additional streamgages may be affected if partners reduce their funding to support USGS streamgages. The USGS is working to identify which streamgages will be impacted and will post this information as it becomes available. Streamgages are used nationwide to predict and address drought and flood conditions by monitoring water availability. The USGS and over 850 Federal, State, and local agencies cooperatively fund the USGS streamgaging network, which consists of over 8,000 streamgages. When budget fluctuations occur, the network is impacted.”
There are 16 gages in the Champlain watershed listed by the USGS as "threatened and endangered", ten in Vermont and six in New York. “The gages are vital to our flood forecasting and warning system and to track the effectiveness of our nutrient reduction investments and assess lake health” notes LCC Executive Director Lori Fisher. In the long term, failure to maintain these extensive data sets will impair our ability to detect water quality trends. In the short term, loss of the gages will weaken our ability to predict floods. Stream gages provide a fundamental early warning system. With climate change leading to increased frequency of intense storms, flood forecasting becomes even more important.
USGS has secured operating funds through September of 2013 from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and other partners. Beyond the end of September, available funding for the gages is unclear. USGS has realized that threatening stream gages in times of fiscal constraint forces other entities to cover that portion of their budget. Tell the USGS to stop playing politics with the gages. Tell your Senators and Representative to force USGS to cover this vital service.