Budget cuts threaten local stream gages Two in Waverly, one in Owego possibly affected
Budgetary constraints have threatened the continued operation of New York's rain and stream gages, mobilizing Tioga County governments to discuss resolutions in support of the county's three Susquehanna River gages.
Waverly village trustees last week passed a resolution calling for "a firm, long-term commitment" to restoring federal funding to the gages, which provide real-time information to the National Weather Service and other organizations regarding water levels and potential flood conditions.
The rain and stream gages at the river near Waverly have collected data for 79 years, according to information from the United States Geological Survey, which operates the gages comprising the Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System.
A similar resolution is also on the agenda for next week's Tioga County Legislature meeting. In addition to the two gages in Waverly, a gage also measures the river at Owego, according to the USGS.
Lack of stable funding has threatened the gages, which have gone unfunded since Oct. 2012 due to budgetary constraints, according to the USGS. The cuts have affected a total of 18 stream gages and 16 rain gages in the New York state portion of the system.
The sites were to be shut down March 1 if a funding source was not identified. However, in late February, the USGS extended operation of the gages until June 1 while negotiations continued for a potential source of stop-gap funding that would extend support through the end of September. According to the resolution, $215,000 in funding was needed to avoid a March 1 shutdown.
The federal budget cuts imposed by sequestration may also affect the stream gages. Cuts will likely force the USGS to discontinue operation of up to 375 of its over 8,000 stream gages nationwide, although specific impacts to the New York gage network were not known as of March 4, according to information from the USGS' New York Water Science Center.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.