SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - The United States Geological Survey is teaming up with the City of Fenton and MSD to install a new river monitoring gage on the Meramec River. This gage will provide, for the first time, an exact measurement on the Meramec at Fenton. No longer will they have to rely on readings from Valley Park and Arnold, the next two closest gages.
Paul Rydlund is a supervising hydrologist with USGS. He asked us to join him for an exclusive look as his team installed the gage late last week.
“This is a non-contact water level sensor. What is inside that box…essentially is a sensor that transmits high frequency radio waves and those high frequency radio waves are touching down to the water surface and they are able to get a distance. As the water begins to increase…as the river starts to go up..then that distance decreases and translates to a water level,” says Rydlund.
The new gage brings the total number of gages in Missouri up to 265. The new Fenton gage is located about ¼ mile from the MSD plant that flooded last month. That is one of the reasons the City of Fenton and MSD partnered with the USGS to get the new gage installed.
Rydlund says most of their projects involve some sort of local-federal partnership.
“80% of our budget is by local municipalities and other state and federal folks that contribute,” says Rydlund.
The benefits of adding a gage here are many fold. Rydlund says it will not only improve river monitoring and National Weather Service forecasts, it will also help the USGS improve flood inundation mapping which will then help communities like Fenton better estimate the impacts of future major flooding.
The cost for a unit like this starts at about $5,000 but goes up quickly depending on the complexity of the installation.