Colorado Water 2012: Hydrography — The science of measuring streamflow

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Here’s the latest installment in their Water 2012 series from the Valley Courier. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

For the Rio Grande Compact, seven streamflow gaging stations are operated in the San Luis Valley to account for the water originating in the Conejos and Rio Grande systems and the water delivered from these systems to New Mexico. The Hydrographic Branch of the Colorado Division of Water Resources operates these seven gaging stations along with 73 other gaging stations across the San Luis Valley.

In addition to the Compact gages, stations are operated on natural streams and creeks to help water commissioners allocate the available water to water users, maintain a historic record of water in the stream, account for trans-mountain water brought into the basin, record water diverted at critical diversion structures, and provide valuable information to recreational enthusiasts such as kayakers and fishermen.

The data from these sites may be later used for water supply planning, flood warning, environmental studies, and basin modeling, such as the Rio Grande Decision Support System (RGDSS).

Meanwhile, USGS streamflow gages are facing funding cuts. Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

…for years, ranchers, town planners and even angler and kayakers have relied on a huge network of streamflow gages maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey to help monitor water quality, measure and predict peak spring runoff and flooding potential, or even just the best time run some whitewater or to go fishing. In some places, the streamflow information is critical to helping protect endangered species.

But that network is shrinking, due mainly to budget constraints that already forced the USGS to shut down stations around the country. Just in the past few years, the agency stopped operating 133 water quality stations, many in New Mexico and Florida.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

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