Upper Delaware River gauges critical to measuring flood potential will continue operating, after funding cuts threatened a permanent shutdown.


Upper Delaware River gauges critical to measuring flood potential will continue operating, after funding cuts threatened a permanent shutdown. 
Earlier this year, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection announced it would not fund six gauges along the Upper Delaware River. The agency controls reservoir releases on the river, managing the city’s drinking water supply.
Stepping up to the plate, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will now fund three gauges, ensuring a scope of river conditions in the region, said Tom Rathbun, DEP spokesperson.
“It was giving us good scientific river flow the whole way,” said Rathbun. “It’s good for our drought forecasting as well.”
Also, the New York City environmental agency later reconsidered that it would pick up the tab for the three other gauges.
The gauges, among many used throughout the Commonwealth, are located on the East Branch and West Branch of the Delaware River; near Callicoon and Barryville, NY; and near Pond Eddy and Matamoras in Pike County.
Agencies typically co-fund each gauge’s cost with the U.S. Geological Survey, the federal agency responsible for the program.
The gauges provide real-time river flow data to the National Weather Service for flood warnings, and also measure historic river conditions.
The Matamoras gauge, for example, has recorded Upper Delaware River behavior for 105 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
“These gauges let us know if there’s a potential for flooding, if pollution is entering the watershed, or if we’re facing drought conditions,” said Gov. Ed Rendell in a statement issued Wednesday.
Each costs about $18,000 a year to operate and maintain, according to reports.
Funding will come from the state’s Clean Water Fund, managed by DEP.
The Delaware River has developed a flood-prone reputation, after consecutive deluges in 2006, 2005, and 2004.