FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STIMULUS-FUNDED STREAMGAGE UPGRADES DELIVER AN ARRAY OF BENEFITS
The following news release is a corrected version of the similarly titled news release distributed by YSI Inc. via World-Wire.com on Dec. 21, 2009. All quotes from the USGS and National Weather Service have been removed. Further, any mention of the USGS or National Weather Service does not constitute endorsement.
YELLOW SPRINGS, OH, January 4, 2010 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, often called ARRA or the Stimulus Package, earmarked $14.6 million to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for upgrades to its 7,500-station national streamgage network and an additional $14.6 million to complete deferred maintenance projects. USGS offices have invested their streamgage upgrade funds in a host of new technologies – high data rate (HDR) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) radios, hydroacoustic flow-measuring devices and radar systems.
In the field, the stimulus funding is creating a safer, more effective data collection network. And in the industry, a wave of ARRA-funded orders is creating or protecting jobs.
“We have created or retained 19.3 jobs due to the ARRA program,” reports Gayle Rominger, executive vice president of YSI Inc., Yellow Springs, Ohio. YSI designs and builds many of the devices used in the streamgage upgrade, from the hydroacoustic profilers manufactured by its San Diego-based division, SonTek/YSI, to the HDR transmitters made in Logan, Utah by subsidiary Design Analysis Associates (DAA).
Many USGS offices have invested in acoustic Doppler profilers (ADPs) such as Argonaut SL and SW ADPs that can make measurements in complex flow conditions, and Flow Trackers, which allow USGS hydrologists to collect comprehensive data in extremely shallow and slow-moving water with outstanding accuracy.
RiverSurveyors, floating ADPs that can be deployed in minutes to collect stage and flow data in an array of challenging conditions, will allow safer, faster data collection, especially during flood events. Floating hydroacoustic equipment can be deployed from riverbanks or unmanned cableways rather than requiring technicians to work suspended over rivers on cableways or block traffic with cranes on bridges. The new equipment can also reduce the time required to take a measurement from more than an hour to a matter of minutes.
Radar water level sensors, such as the DAA/YSI H-3611, may be mounted on bridges or other structures for accurate, non-contact stage measurements. In sand-bottomed systems that often choked or buried other level measurement technologies during flash floods, radar sensors offer a reliable alternative. USGS is flood-hardening many streamgaging stations and installing redundant sensors at several important locations to ensure a reliable flow of information to the National Weather Service, according to USGS sources.
It’s vital that the USGS maintains a good flow of information to their colleagues in the National Weather Service. At the heart of the ARRA-funded streamgage network upgrades is the switch of thousands of gages from 100-baud, low data (LDR) rate GOES transmitters to 300-baud, HDR units. Rather than broadcasting data every four hours, as the LDR systems do, HDR stations share their data every hour, providing detailed information for long-term river studies as well as nearly up-to-the-minute insight for forecasters.
Before ARRA was funded, USGS had already switched approximately 4,500 of its 7,500 streamgage stations to HDR as part of a long-term upgrade program. The stimulus funding will help the agency upgrade the remaining 3,000 stations with HDR transmitters well before its original 2013 deadline.
National Weather Service hydrologists immediately noticed the improvement. The benefits of hourly data updates are illustrated by a pair of recent flash floods that may well have been more devastating or eluded the Weather Service’s attention had it not been for the hourly reports from USGS HDR streamgages.
Along the Dirty Devil River in Utah, a 2006 thunderstorm system moved in under the National Weather Service’s radar – only USGS’s streamgage system warned of the floods that resulted from the storms. The following year, USGS HDR data tracking a flash flood along the North Fork of the Virgin River allowed the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning and notify the National Park Service to evacuate visitors from the area that was soon inundated.
Help At Many Levels
“ARRA has really benefited our business,” says Terrell Fletcher, General Manager of Design Analysis Associates in Logan, Utah, which is building hundreds of HDR transmitters ordered with stimulus funds. “The orders have kept us busy, and have also helped fund our development of a new HDR platform. When we tie that data transmission to the other technologies that YSI is providing in terms of measuring water chemistry and water quantity, ARRA funding allows us to help USGS tell the public what’s available and whether it’s safe.”