Cost-effectiveness of the Federal stream-gaging program in Virginia

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4345




Data uses and funding sources were identified for the 77 continuous stream gages currently being operated in Virginia by the U.S. Geological Survey with a budget of $446,000. Two stream gages were identified as not being used sufficiently to warrant continuing their operation. Operation of these stations should be considered for discontinuation. Data collected at two other stations were identified as having uses primarily related to short-term studies; these stations should also be considered for discontinuation at the end of the data collection phases of the studies. The remaining 73 stations should be kept in the program for the foreseeable future. The current policy for operation of the 77-station program requires a budget of $446,000/yr. The average standard error of estimation of streamflow records is 10.1%. It was shown that this overall level of accuracy at the 77 sites could be maintained with a budget of $430,500 if resources were redistributed among the gages. A minimum budget of $428,500 is required to operate the 77-gage program; a smaller budget would not permit proper service and maintenance of the gages and recorders. At the minimum budget, with optimized operation, the average standard error would be 10.4%. The maximum budget analyzed was $650,000, which resulted in an average standard error of 5.5%. The study indicates that a major component of error is caused by lost or missing data. If perfect equipment were available, the standard error for the current program and budget could be reduced to 7.6%. This also can be interpreted to mean that the streamflow data have a standard error of this magnitude during times when the equipment is operating properly. (Author 's abstract)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Cost-effectiveness of the Federal stream-gaging program in Virginia
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey,
vii, 72 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.