Funding May Come Through for System of Gauges that Monitor River Crests

Dec 22, 2011

Funding may be flowing after all for the system of gauges that monitored river crests during this year's floods in Pennsylvania.

The federal government, the Army Corps of Engineers, regional groups, and state agencies are all pitching in on the effort.

"These stream gauges are providing the real time data that the National Weather Service needs in order to make the weather forecasts that everyone hears on radio and TV stations about how high a particular river's going to get, how high, when it's going to crest, and by how much," said Susan Obleski, spokeswoman for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

Last year's moratorium on congressional earmarks jeopardized the federal government's contribution to the kitty. But the feds may come through for the gauge network, which helps forecast river crests.

"In various agency budgets, language and money has been directed by various congressional members. And it's not a hard program for them to support," said Obleski.

Obleski said that the state Department of Environmental Protection has, in the past, "stepped up to the plate" to allocate additional money to the stream gauge network.

Failing to fully fund the gauges could mean having to take some of the devices offline. That's a tough decision to make, because the different agencies supporting the network are collecting different kinds of data, and all have their own favorite gauges.

The network of gauges along the Susquehanna River are paid for by a combination of federal, state, and local government money. An employee with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said that the commonwealth may make up for the budget gap by allocating special state funds while federal agencies re-work their own budgets at the behest of members of Congress to make sure that the gauge system is fully funded.