U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called on congressional leaders Friday to protect funding for river monitoring technology, including the Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System.

The system, which includes gauges that monitor water levels in the Susquehanna River basin, is critical for determining drought conditions and accurately predicting floods.

"Residents of flood zones and emergency management agencies rely on the flood forecasting system to prepare for and respond to rising waters, which protects lives and property and saves taxpayers money," Casey, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement.

"Unreliable data and outdated practices are not acceptable measures of protection for my constituents, and I will fight to keep this system functioning and prevent Pennsylvanians from facing unnecessary risk."

Casey is asking for Congress to protect National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funding for next year in an upcoming appropriations bill. "In the aftermath of last year's devastating storms, we must continue to make critical investments to protect residents of areas at risk for flooding," he wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Appropriations Committee Chairman, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii; and Vice Chairman, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

"As you know, NOAA provides funding to systems across the country that disseminate accurate data on flooding threats," he wrote. "This information helps residents in these communities secure property and move to safer locations."

Casey cited the Sept. 8-9 Tropical Storm Lee flooding, during which "flood forecasting systems were used up and down the Susquehanna River to give residents ample warning about flooding risks," allowing people in affected areas to evacuate safely and protect their property.

"Investing in flood forecasting systems supported by NOAA is also cost effective," Casey said in the letter. "I have been informed that for every dollar invested by the federal government in flood forecasting systems, approximately $20 can be saved through reduced flood damages and reduced payouts by the federal flood insurance program."

- Times-Shamrock report