Monday, November 18, 2013

Government's funding cuts dries up hundreds of stream monitoring sites

The federal government's fiscal hard times have led to cuts in the nationwide monitoring of stream flow, water quality and rainfall.

Dropped were several hundred stream monitoring sites, victims of political wrangling.

Ohio actually fared pretty well, all things being considered.

A number of other states were not so favored, however. Among them was Ohio's immediate neighbor to the east, Pennsylvania.

In all, 375 stream monitoring stations – out of about 8,000 units - chiefly maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey are or were furloughed under what's called “sequestration.”

This process kicked in when Congressional Democrats and Republicans were unable to come to grips as to whether to increase taxes – and by how much – or if slashes in spending – and also by how much – would become the law of the land.

After no agreement was achieved then the automatic and across-the-board massively deep cuts were instituted. To no one's liking, either.

When the dust settled (or better said, when the creek stopped rising) two monitoring stations in Ohio were placed in mothballs.

These two units included a water-quality monitoring station on the Portage River at Woodville in northwest Ohio and the other also being a water-quality monitoring station. This one is at Huff Run at Mineral City in east-central Ohio.

Over in Pennsylvania no fewer than 49 stations were shuttered, including one that had operated continuously for 48 years.

By far the hardest-hit state was Florida. Here some 78 monitoring stations were shut down by sequestration.

Among some of the other heavily impacted states are Texas (14), South Carolina and Wisconsin (13 each), and North Carolina (20).

Stream monitoring stations often serve a multipurpose role. They include helping water planners determine how and when to manage stream flow for flood control, navigation, water supply and the like.

Anglers use some of the information on a real-time basis to gauge whether stream flow is too much, too little, or just right for fishing. In Northeast Ohio anglers closely watch stream flows to decide if the time is right to wade the Chagrin or Grand rivers or Conneaut Creek for steelhead trout.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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