SALT LAKE CITY — Next month, Utah rivers and creeks will begin to rise with snowmelt runoff. High flows are expected because of the deep snowpack in the mountains.
The United States Geological Survey is planning ahead to make sure stream-flow measurements are accurate when the rivers rise.
KSL caught up with Travis Gibson and Phil Klebba, hydro-logic technicians with the USGS, working on their real-time stream gauge on the Ogden River at Gibson Avenue.
“We keep an eye on things,” said Gibson. “We know which gauges are priorities.”
They used a little boat sending acoustic pulses to measure the volume and velocity of water in the river to calculate the total flow. They were getting measurements of the water as it rises to make sure the ratings that they use to compute stream flows are accurate.
“I like knowing that I’m doing something that is important that matters because there are a lot of people out there that use our flow data,” said Gibson.
Water managers, reservoir managers, emergency managers, municipal leaders and people who recreate on the rivers all depend on that data to make decisions.
The hydro techs make sure that more than 200 stream gauges across our state are running properly and giving accurate information. The gauges do not often measure excessive flows, as they will this year.
“We’re expecting some pretty good flows, but it’s hard to tell how high they’re going to get. It all depends on the weather,” said the hydrologic technician.
The information gathered is critical on a year like this when we know that stream levels will be well above average and could lead to flooding.
“It could be important if we’re in a situation where we’re getting close to flood stages,” said Gibson. “It’s important to have accurate stage data to be able to get warnings out.”
All of that USGS Utah Water Data is available online anytime.
“I don’t know if everybody is aware that it is out there. But I run into people all the time and they ask me about it,“ said Gibson.
Peaks for high elevation runoff should arrive in June and early July in northern Utah.