Monitoring river and stream levels is a vital public obligation that supports the historical record, assists in managing the risks of future events such as flooding and provides real-time monitoring to issue warnings about impending flood crises.
Detailed hydrological records extend back one hundred years, but recent developments in digital technology make timely data and alerts to flooding easier to collect. The imperative to measure the impact of climate change and manage local safety is becoming stronger as it alters the behaviors of rivers and flooding.
The Importance of Watching the Waters
Decision-makers underestimated the Paris floods because debris blocked a flood sensor, costing precious hours and putting the safety of the Parisian public in jeopardy. Urban areas are expanding across the developed world, and climate change creates heightened levels of uncertainty about natural disasters such as flooding. Public administrators need the most accurate real-time information about water levels, and outdated sensors and data collection methods at monitoring stations hinder this responsibility.
The authorities and experts responsible for public safety in communities both large and small cannot afford to rely on outdated technology. A massive challenge that agencies face when collecting and analyzing data about water levels in rivers, streams and lakes is the outdated equipment with which they are often forced to use.
The Traditions of Hydrological Data Collection
The USGS has been collecting data nationally about river flows and stages for the last century. The traditional way was a float and pulley in a stilling well that captured an analog signal; a mechanical device converted the data by punching holes in a paper tape once every six minutes. While this was adequate for collecting historical data and making seasonal predictions, it had no ability to warn of impending floods. This outdated system also required a researcher to go out into the field and physically collect the data.
Digital systems built on modern microprocessors that connect directly into networks provide vastly larger volumes of data than before. By having such power out in the field, the scientists that supervise data collection can focus on analysis. This enables them to determine trends in comparison to the historical record and monitor events in real-time.
Updating Water Monitoring Solutions
Modern equipment reduces the time spent by field teams doing maintenance while also minimizing data-collecting expeditions into the wilderness. Manual gauge reading and data collection have limitations that agencies can overcome through the time and labor savings of new equipment that use radio, cellular or satellite telemetry to deliver real-time data remotely.
Looking to replace old analog equipment? Here are suggested water level monitoring solutions to consider:
Radar stage sensor – Measuring the water level in real-time, accurately with no moving parts.
Rain gauge – A well-appointed monitoring platform might include a tipping rain gauge that measures precipitation in real-time.
Submersible pressure transducers – While all monitoring stations might not have one, placing a pressure sensor at a fixed height from the riverbed provides an additional data point for quality control.
Bubbler – accurately measuring water level through a submerged orifice line, a bubbler is a good choice for many environments. FTS recently introduced a new bubbler that improves on typical versions from other manufacturers.
The goal of FTS is to make all of our customers successful in their efforts to monitor, record and analyze changes in the natural environment. Don’t allow outdated equipment to undermine your mission to manage water stage warning and research stations. Contact us today to find out how we can provide the weather monitoring equipment you need to protect the future of your community.