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Published April 03, 2010, 05:19 PM

Funding For USGS Gauge At Oslo May Be Cut

What if a town that frequently faces severe flooding were to lose its water level monitoring gauge?

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

Many people who live in areas that frequently flood can check the levels of the river or lake online. Those water levels are carefully monitored by gauges. But Because of Minnesota state budget cuts, people in Oslo could be dealing with that very situation.

City leaders say it would be a misfortune because the gauges are an important tool in protecting the city from flooding. The city of Oslo faces such severe spring flooding that it sometimes literally becomes an island. The people who live here, and even leaders that don't, frequently turn to the internet for the latest readings from the USGS gauge outside of town near the Red River.

"So we know when to put up our dike systems, when to put our emergency plans into effect," said City Council Member Scott Kosmatka.

But because of Minnesota state budget cuts, funding for this gauge may be cut, so people won't be able to rely on it next spring. It costs about $60,000 a year to operate.

"Disappointment, of course, because it's a wonderful tool that we use every day," said City Council Member Rae Ann Nelson.

The gauge actually measures the river level, then puts that information online. It's a much safer and faster alternative to having people actually go out and manually measure the river.

"On the center of the bridge is where our city workers have to go and gather the information manually for the river height," said Kosmatka.

People in Oslo say manually measuring the river isn't any less accurate, but it's much less convenient. They say they like being able to easily monitor the river level right from their computers.