Water monitoring projects benefit from recovery funds

March 8, 2010
YELLOW SPRINGS, OH, March 8, 2010 -- Thanks to the investment of Recovery Act funds by USGS, YSI Inc. has been able to realize new and saved jobs and provide better ways to keep an eye on the nation's rivers and streams...

YELLOW SPRINGS, OH, March 8, 2010 -- New and saved jobs and better ways to keep an eye on the Nation's rivers and streams: That's what has resulted from the USGS investing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds in YSI Inc., a developer and manufacturer of environmental monitoring equipment based in Yellow Springs, Ohio and its subsidiary Design Analysis Associates in Logan, Utah. YSI designs and builds many of the devices used for the USGS nationwide streamgage network upgrade, switching thousands of gages from 100-baud, low data rate (LDR) GOES transmitters to 300-baud, high data rate (HDR) units which communicate information to Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites.

"We have created or retained 19 jobs due to the ARRA program," said Gayle Rominger, Executive Vice President of YSI.

The USGS received $14.6 million to support the streamgage network, which provides critical information used to estimate flood dangers, protect fragile ecosystems, construct safe bridges and roadways, and monitor the effects of climate change on water availability.

The upgraded streamgages, mostly run on solar power, will make data available to State and Federal resource managers and agencies every hour, an improvement over the current delay of up to 3-4 hours. The data can be accessed on the internet by the public.

"ARRA has really benefited our business," said Terrell Fletcher, General Manager of Design Analysis Associates in Logan, Utah, which is building hundreds of transmitters ordered with stimulus funds as part of the upgrade effort. "ARRA funding allows us to help USGS tell the public what's available and whether it's safe," he said.

Many USGS offices have invested ARRA funds in acoustic Doppler profilers (ADPs) that can make measurements in complex flow conditions, and FlowTrackers, which allow USGS hydrologists to collect comprehensive data in extremely shallow and slow-moving water with increased accuracy.

Floating hydroacoustic equipment can be deployed from riverbanks or unmanned cableways rather than requiring technicians to work suspended over rivers on cableways or block traffic with cranes on bridges. The new equipment can also reduce the time required to take a measurement from more than an hour to a matter of minutes.

Before ARRA was funded, USGS had already switched approximately 4,500 of its 7,500 streamgage stations to HDR as part of a long-term upgrade program. The stimulus funding will help the agency upgrade the remaining 3,000 stations with HDR transmitters well before its original 2013 deadline.