WASHINGTON — More than 100 crucial gauges that warn of imminent flooding or lack of needed water will be shut down starting next month as part of the federal government’s automatic budget cuts.
Some are in the nine states threatened with spring flooding, U.S. Geological Survey officials said in interviews with The Associated Press.
In rivers where flooding is imminent, such as near Fargo, N.D., officials are scrambling to keep needed monitors working and make the cuts elsewhere. Details are still to be worked out, officials said.
Jerad Bales, the agency’s chief scientist for water, said at least 120 gauges, and as many as 375 in a worst-case scenario, will be shut down because of the mandatory cuts known in Washington budget language as sequestration.
“It’s a life and property issue. It’s a safety issue,” Bales said in a telephone interview.
Agency flood coordinator Robert Holmes said that without a full fleet of stream gauges, it is harder to warn people about flooding.
There are 8,000 gauges across the country, paid for by a combination of federal, state and local governments. The federal government last year spent nearly $29 million on gauges, while other governments pitched in $116 million.