For anyone who spends a lot of their time dealing with water, having up-to-the-minute information on water conditions is a tough proposition. Whether it’s a boater who wants current river level information, a groundwater manager who needs to know what pumps to keep working, or crisis management officials dealing with flood or drought conditions, having current information can be vital to safety. The USGS has created a system called WaterAlert that makes the information from all of the bodies of water across the country that they monitor available in real-time through text-message or email alerts.
“Real-time water data are essential to those making daily decisions about water-related activities, whether for resource management, business operations, flood response or recreation. WaterAlert continues USGS efforts to make data immediately available and relevant to every user.” — Matt Larsen, USGS Associate Director for Water
The USGS WaterAlert system can provide real-time water information for 9,081 continuous and partial record streamgages, 369 lakes, 1,278 wells and 3,632 precipitation gauges throughout the United States. Anyone can sign up on the USGS website to receive alerts based on a variety of criteria about any of the locations.
Users can choose a specific site, whether they prefer text or email updates, the frequency of their updates, and specify their desired criteria, from above or below a value to within a given range of conditions. For example, if a recreational boater wants to know when a river is high enough to allow safe passage through dangerous rapids, he/she can set those criteria and receive a text when conditions meet their desired criteria. Another example could be a person who lives in a flood-prone watershed setting up a text-message alert when the river reaches a certain level, alerting them to not venture close to the river.
For something as unpredictable and constantly changing as water conditions, this will be a powerful tool and safety measure for anyone who wants to optimize their ability to enjoy time on a river or stay in the know in a crisis situation.