Flood Alarms Threatened By Budget Cuts

Flood Alarms Threatened By Budget Cuts (Image 1)

Despite record-breaking flooding in parts of the Midwest this year, the U.S. flood alarm system is about to get smaller. 

At the beginning of the month, the U.S. Geological Survey turned off some 150 stream gauges that monitor water levels on the country's rivers and streams. 

It had to be done thanks to the federal spending cuts, also known as sequester.

The agency could turn off another 200 gauges. 

Experts say turning off these gauges will weaken the system that helps communities prepare for floods. 

See the gauges are automated systems that collect data every 15 minutes.  Every hour then, this data is put through a satellite system and dispersed to the National Weather Service.

The problem is… on average, one stream gauge costs between $16,000 to $16,500 per year to operate and maintain.  In 2012, the total cost of gauge operation was $165 million.


These cuts couldn't come at a worse time.  Scientists say that climate change has led to record floods recently. 

So they are trying to pick the least critical gauges to cut.



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