- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - About 20 percent of the Missouri gauges used by state and federal agencies to gather water data and monitor floodwaters will go offline this summer because of budget problems, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS’s Missouri Water Science Center in Rolla maintains 274 gauges across the state, and 49 of them are scheduled to be deactivated after June 30, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/2qszVic ).

Various entities fund the gauges, including the state departments of natural resources, conservation and transportation. Amy Beussink, director of the water science center, said gauges are paid for individually and funding varies annually depending on the priorities of the partners with USGS.

Beussink said “a couple of different partners were dealing with budget constraints,” but she declined to say which entities were less willing or able to fund the gauges after June.

The Legislature, following the recommendation of Gov. Eric Greitens, this session reduced core funding for the Missouri Geological Survey, which funds the Water Science Center in Rolla, by about $1.2 million.

C. Shane Barks, deputy director of the Rolla center, said the gauges have drawn a lot of interest and there is still time for new funding before they have to be discontinued.

State money brings in federal funds for the gauges, Barks said, and it costs $14,600 per year to operate a gauge.

Data gathered by the gauges is used for several purposes, such as drinking water management, power plant operation, and infrastructure for dams, levees, bridges and roads, Barks said. They also are used for protecting life and property from floods and droughts and flood plain management and regulation.

“Real-time data is essential for activities that require rapid decisions, such as the issuing of flood warnings and flood crest predictions by the National Weather Service and the evacuations of persons in flood-prone areas,” he said.

Other uses for the gauges include measuring the history of changes in water levels, observing water quality, weather models and forecasts, river and infrastructure management, as well as recreational purposes, such as determining if a river is suitable for use by canoeists.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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