The stream gauges act as an early warning system for Waynesville during flooding conditions so that the city can warn citizens and evacuate the RV park when necessary.

Fort Leonard Wood will be discontinuing its monitoring of four stream gauges that Waynesville and other local entities use as an early warning system in case of flooding this month. Waynesville hosted a meeting with other interested parties recently to discuss ways to continue to fund the monitoring.

To ensure that the residents continue receiving accurate and timely flood warnings, the City of Waynesville is working with state and local organizations to find a permanent and continuous source to fund the four stream gauges monitoring water levels on the Piney and Roubidoux.

Some of the organizations interested in funding and concerned for the public’s safety if long term funding for the gauges isn’t acquired are: Waynesville City Officials, MDC (Missouri Department of Conservation), DNR (Missouri Department of Natural Resources), USGS (United States Geological Survey), NWS (National Weather Station from Springfield), MSHP (Missouri State Highway Patrol), Outfitters and landowners on the Piney River, and SEMA (State Emergency Management).

There are 4 stream gauges in this area. They have been in place for quite a while. The gauge at the upper Roubidoux, above Fort Leonard, has been in place since 1999.

The gauge at the lower Rubidoux, at Pollo Road below Fort Leonard, has been in operation since 2008.

The gauge at the Big Piney, near Big Piney and also known as Ross Bridge, has been in place since 1921. For a short period in the 80s, this gauge was not in operation, but since 1988 this stream gauge has been functional and monitored.

The gauge at the lower Big Piney below Fort Leonard Wood, East Gate Road, has been in operation since 1999. This site is eligible to be funded with USGS funds as a Federal Priority (FPS) Stream gauge, if FPS funds become available.

This stream gauge is also the river forecast zone gauge. Readings from this gauge give the NWS (National Weather Service) approximately 6 to 9 hours to notify the public before the river reaches cresting stage.

The Roubidoux Creek stream gauges are on the west side of Fort Leonard Wood and the Piney River stream gauges are on the east side of the Fort. Both rivers flow from south to north and drain into Gasconade River.

So which gauge is the most important or critical? It all depends what your interest is and where you live.

The four stream gauges were funded through Fort Leonard Wood to monitor the flow of water coming on and leaving Fort Leonard Wood. This month, Fort Leonard Wood will discontinue funding the stream gauges due to funding cuts and repowerization.

All stream gauges are currently functioning and monitoring river water levels. For Waynesville and surrounding areas the continuous monitoring of the gauges is Waynesville’s “early warning system.”

Based on the data extracted and graphed by USGS, the national weather service in Springfield can issue inclement weather predictions and flood warnings, giving those along the Rubidoux and Big Piney with homes and livestock, time to prepare.

Can stream gauges be turned on and off to save money?

Shane Barks, USGS, said, “I don’t think it would work well.”

The relationship between the height and flow measurements is constantly changes. In the spring there is vegetation on banks. In the fall leaves choke up the flow. USGS continually makes flow measurements to maintain the rate curve.

Can stream gauges be turned on and off to save money?

Shane Barks, USGS, “I don’t think it would work well.”

The relationship between the height and flow measurements is constantly changes. In the spring there is vegetation on banks. In the fall leaves choke up the flow. USGS continually makes flow measurements to maintain the rate curve.

If the stream gauges are already in place, why is it so expensive to monitor the stream gauges?

Shane Barks, USGS explained the monitoring expenses. USGS visits the sites on a regular interval. USGS surveys the area to make sure nothing has changed and everything is working properly. The instrumentation gauges are expensive and the equipment used to measure and monitor the gauges is expensive. The cost to monitor gauges is the same throughout the state of Missouri. The cost is not unique to Pulaski County. Lightning strike damage, vandalism and general upkeep are also factored into the cost.

Larry Helm, President of the Pulaski County Outfitters, said, “Gauges are critical to the people in Missouri, to boaters and those who recreate on the river. If the gauges are there, we can make sure the people we put out on the river are safe.”

The stream gauges have not been “turned off “(monitoring ended) and efforts by the city and other organizations are continuing to ensure the gauges “stay on” (continue to monitor water flow) The City of Waynesville, and other organizations have provided some of the necessary funds to monitor the stream gauges The goal is to find a more permanent and continuous source of funding.

Waynesville City Administer, Bruce Harrill, asked, at the recent meeting to discuss the issue asked, “How do we look into Congress funding this?”

Spencer Tuma, a representative from Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s Office, said he has plans to speak with Congresswoman Hartzler about the funding issues surrounding the stream gauges.

Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman said she hopes that the Congresswoman responds favorably. “The City of Waynesville and all the other interested parties are concerned for the public safety. I hope that our Congresswoman responds to this issue. As she is a farmer, she will understand it's importance,” Hardman said.

”We’re not quite there, but we’re getting closer,” Harrill said near the close of the meeting.

New funding sources have come in, potential long term funding sources were identified, and the pluses and minuses of alternative sources of monitoring the stream gauges were discussed.

Another meeting is planned for March.