By Alexandra Hedrick, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
The United States Geological Survey has shut down 375 streamgauges nationwide, including the streamgauge on the Jourdan River at Kiln in Hancock County. The closing of the gauges is due to sequestration that went into effect in April.
Without funding from the federal government or an outside agency, such as a local community, the streamgauges will be discontinued until funding is available again.
“We put out a notice of potential cuts with the purpose of finding a cooperative to fund it, but no one has stepped forward,” said Richard Rebich, assistant center director with the Mississippi Water Science Center.
Currently the only information being gathered from the Jourdan River is the temperature and precipitation rate, but both numbers are not collected through the streamgauge.
Rebich said he was upset to see the gauge at Jourdan River had gone offline after 15 continuous years of reading river levels. The gauge on Yalobusha River and Creek in Calhoun City had been in service for 60 consecutive years, according to the USGS website.
Streamgauges are a crucial part of determining river staging and river flow, he said.
“If that gauge goes out, the people in that area will be affected,” Rebich said.
Keeping a record of river staging is important in gathering flood information and determining when the river poses a threat of causing flooding in the area, especially during hurricanes, he said.
The information gathered from the streamgauges also is usually used in flood insurance maps, Rebich said.
“Gaps (in the information) screw up the ability to develop numbers for flooding data,” Rebich said.
The last river stage data the Mississippi Water Science Center gathered from the Jourdan River streamgauge was on April 1, he said.
Rebich said streamgauges help measure the flow of the river, which is the amount of water that passes during a certain period of time. River flow measurements are necessary to keep the river from going too low, on streams that are dammed or on which there are industries that draw water from the stream. There are state laws put into place that restrict how low the water goes in a river used by industry, which helps prevent the river from going dry.
Industries that pull water from the river can cause water levels to be affected, but with the streamgauges, the water science center can keep watch of river levels to keep the industries from affecting the river levels negatively.
Keeping the rivers and creeks from becoming too low also helps preserve the aquatic life that live in and on the waterways, he said.
“We’re still trying to work with partners in the community to get gauges back online,” Rebich said.
Other streamgauges in service in Mississippi that have been discontinued are on: the Escaptawpa River at Interstate 10 near Orange Grove, Topashaw Creek Canal near Calhoun City, Yalobusha River and Creek in Calhoun City, and Little Yellow Creek East near Burnsville.
Rebich said with the streamgauges offline at these locations, residents should heed flood warnings from local officials, especially during hurricane season.