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Notes from the North Country
 

Funding restored for stream monitoring gauges

By Stephen Williams
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Federal funding for stream monitoring gauges on some eastern Adirondack and Lake Champlain streams has been restored, U.S. senators Charles Schumer, D-NY and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said.

The senators said they have secured funding to prevent the imminent shutdown of river and lake gauges in the New Lake Champlain basin, gauges that last year monitored spring flooding and the August flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

“Flipping off these gauges would have forced us to tie one hand behind our back to fight flooding, when we really need all hands on deck,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer said the gauges helped our first responders save lives and property during the floods by providing real-time information as the waters rose.

There have been 18 U.S. Geological Survey gauges — nine in Vermont and nine in New York — but this year they were going to be shut down as part of federal budget cuts.

Leahy and Schumer appealed to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to use funds available from its budget for Lake Champlain to keep the gauges going. The cost of operating the nine New York gauges is $134,000.

In New York, the gauges are on the Great Chazy, Little Chazy, Salmon, Ausable and Little Ausable in Clinton County; the Bouquet River and Putnam Creek in Essex County; and Lake Champlain and Mettawee River in Washington County.

The Adirondack Council praised the funding restoration, especially in terms of using the gauges as a warning system for future flooding.

"Cutting the funding for the warning systems these communities rely upon, right after these disasters struck, seemed unwise," said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal. "Working together, our federal representatives reversed this poor decision just in time. The gauges were due to be turned off in March.”

 
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