KEEP INFORMED ABOUT RIVER AND LAKE CONDITIONS WITH ONLINE ALERTS
Texas weather sure can be unpredictable. We can suffer through years of drought, reducing stream flow to a mere trickle in some places. Then, next thing you know, torrential rains move in and that quiet stream becomes a roaring flash flood.
However, thanks to technology, we no longer have to be at the mercy of our fickle climate, when it comes to safety around our waterways. The U.S. Geological Survey has introduced an online tool to help those who live alone, have interests near or simply enjoy visiting our lakes and rivers. Called “WaterAlert,” the free service allows users to get hourly or daily updates by text or email when certain conditions selected by the user are met – such as high stream flow.
The service takes advantage of more than 9,500 sites where USGS collects real-time water information, including more than 60 gages in rivers and lakes in the Brazos River basin. To participate, you use an interactive map to find a gage near a location that interests you. Then you determine what conditions need to be met for you to be notified. For instance, you might want to know well before the river reaches flood stage so you have time to take appropriate action. The subscription page includes a chart that shows the discharge (or flow rate) that occurs at the beginning of flood stage. You would then enter a rate lower than that and would receive an email or text at the appropriate time.
The service can also be useful for recreationists wondering if conditions are right to go paddling on a stream. You can set alerts for both minimum acceptable flows, so your canoe doesn’t scrape the bottom the whole time, or for a maximum flow that would be safe for your trip.
In addition, users can also get alerts about groundwater levels, water temperature, quality, and rainfall from several gage sites.
To learn more about the “WaterAlert” program or to subscribe, please click here. The Brazos River Authority also maintains an interactive map of reservoir and stream gages in the basin on our website, and you can find it by clicking here.