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The Rocky River Flow Gauge Upgrade Project: A Watershed Stewardship Success Story


USGS Real-Time Rocky River Water Flow Data


Rocky River in Cleveland MetroparksWhen I received yet another call inquiring "what needs to be done in order to make flow data for the Rocky River available on the Internet and how can we help?," I knew that it was time to do something. This particular call was from the president of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited and represented the wishes of many of this group's members, a sentiment I had heard numerous times within the past year from several other groups and local anglers, boaters and conservation professionals.

A quick call to USGS, the federal agency that maintains river gauges, confirmed that interest was indeed present as their regional representative had received numerous recent inquiries regarding this matter. The main problem was that this agency can’t directly accept non-government funding and most past inquiries had originated from private groups. The fact that Cleveland Metroparks is a major watershed stakeholder, was interested in such a project, and is able to work directly with such groups made us an ideal regional government "sponsor" of this project.

After an encouraging start to our conversation, we proceeded to discuss what would have to occur to make this possible. He informed me that the Rocky River flow gauge wasn’t outfitted with the updated equipment necessary for satellite data transmission, which is required for real-time web availability. Addition of a temperature probe, a first on an area stream, was another exciting possibility. I was informed that USGS would procure the equipment and conduct installation and maintenance, but funding for the equipment and conduct installation and maintenance, but funding the equipment would need to come from elsewhere. It was time to make some calls.

As it turned out, a number of groups almost jumped at the opportunity to assist in funding this project. Project partners comprised a divers cross section of non-profit sportsman's groups and several levels of government, including: Emerald Necklace Chapter of Trout UnlimitedFirelands Fly FishersOhio Central Basin SteelheadersNortheast Ohio Regional Sewer DistrictUSGS, and Cleveland Metroparks. The Cleveland Metroparks portion was from an ECO Green Project fund, which is generated from proceeds from our recycling program, which reflects responsible economic and conservation practice.

It was at this point that a neat "bigger picture" benefit of this project became clear: Successful watershed stewardship. This simply means that several groups with a stake in the health of the river were working together toward attaining a common goal in the interest of the watershed. This was every bit as important as the more immediate benefits of this project.

—Mike Durkalec, Natural Resources