- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has pledged to fund nearly 50 stream gauges used to monitor potential flooding along rivers.

The Missouri Water Science Center in Rolla manages more than 270 real-time gauges, but 49 of them were scheduled for deactivation in July due to unspecified threats to funding, the Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/2q7l3Gr ) reported. Gauges cost $14,600 annually to operate.

The U.S. Geological Survey partners with agencies such as Missouri’s Natural Resources Department to fund and operate the gauges, which are used to collect data for a variety of purposes. For example, the National Weather Service uses data from the water-monitoring devices to predict floods, such as those that recently hit southern Missouri.

Department of Natural Resources officials said the agency never planned to defund any stream gauges.

“Difficult budget reductions are necessary in order to balance a budget,” the department said in a statement released online. “Despite the funding reductions, however, eliminating Missouri’s stream gauges was never an option.”

Amy Beussink, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s center in Rolla, said a couple partners were dealing with budget constraints. She declined to say which agencies’ funding was lower than expected.

Department officials said they’ve been working with the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners to find additional resources to support the state’s stream gauges.

“The department has always been optimistic that we will be able to maintain these important gauges,” the department’s statement said.

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

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