Long awaited rain/river gauge up and running

BY Jan Murray jmurray@southeastsun.com

The city of Daleville received word it had been approved for a state of the art river stage sensor gauging station January 2015, received it in December and after weeks of installation by city public works crews, the gauge is now functioning. It is located at the U.S. Highway 84 bridge, near mile marker 192—adjacent to multiple areas prone to major flooding when the Choctawhatchee River spills its banks.The Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Agency held an announcement ceremony at city hall May 23.City officials, citizens, county officials and board members of the CPYRWMA were on hand for the event.The gauge is part of the basin-wide Flood Warning System. The southeast Alabama system now consists of 22 gauges in eight different southeast Alabama counties for the three rivers. It is equipped with the latest radar technology for monitoring river levels and is only the second one of all the FWS gauges with radar capability, said CPYRWMA Executive Director Barbara Gibson.A CPYRWMA news release states, “The new Daleville gauge measures river levels by radar and detects levels of approximately one-and-a-half inches. Rainfall is measured in tenth-inch increments. Data from the gauges is sent via radio signal to one of four repeaters which forward the data to one of the host computers located in New Brockton, Elba and Geneva. The data can disseminate real time to the Emergency Management Agencies, state and local officials and the National Weather Service.”Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth said, “At the end of the day, putting that river gauge there for the city provides the residents here and in the region with another opportunity to monitor Mother Nature. We will never be able to manage it, but as long as we can monitor it and take care of it, we can be as safe as we can in those cases of flooding in our region and area.”In general, gauges such as this are important so that weather and emergency management officials can monitor bodies of water for threatening levels. Traditionally, flood water levels were measured by using a fixed ruler.According to the National Weather Service, the agency issues flood warnings that list current and predicted stages for affected communities as well as the local flood stage based on the data received from gauges all over the country. The data is collected by the U.S. Geological Survey using a network of gauges such as Daleville one. Real time data is transmitted to officials at the NWS.The CPYRWMA was created in 1991 by the Alabama Legislature. for the purpose of  “developing and executing plans and programs relating to any phase of conservation of water, water usage, flood prevention, flood control, water pollution control, wildlife habitat protection, agricultural and timberland protection, erosion prevention and control of erosion, floodwater and sediment damages,” states the agency’s website.The purpose of the FWS, which is managed by the CPYRWMA, is to “provide timely, reliable and accurate warnings to persons residing along the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers.” It was designed and installed by the Corps of Engineers in 1993 and is the responsibility of the Watershed Management Authority to operate and maintain all components of the system, according to the CPYRWMA website.Anyone can access the readings from the right gauges in the FWS by visiting www.cpyrwma.gov or the National Weather Service site at www.weather.gov.
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