The U.S. Geological Survey streamflow and observation-well network in Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Open-File Report 2003-277
By:  and 



The U.S. Geological Survey began systematic streamflow monitoring in Massachusetts nearly 100 years ago (1904) on the Connecticut River at Montague City. Since that time, hydrologic data collection has evolved into a monitoring network of 103 streamgage stations and 200 ground-water observation wells in Massachusetts and Rhode Island (2000 water year). Data from this network provide critical information for a variety of purposes to Federal, State, and local government agencies, engineering consultants, and the public. The uses of this information have been enhanced by the fact that about 70 percent of the streamgage stations and a small but increasing number of observation wells in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have been equipped with digital collection platforms that transmit data by satellite every 4 hours. Twenty-one of the telemetered streamgage stations are also equipped with precipitation recorders. The near real-time data provided by these stations, along with historical data collected at all stations, are available over the Internet at no charge. The monitoring network operated during the 2000 water year was summarized and evaluated with respect to spatial distribution, the current uses of the data, and the physical characteristics associated with the monitoring sites. This report provides maps that show locations and summary tables for active continuous record streamgage stations, discontinued streamgage stations, and observation wells in each of the 28 major basins identified by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and five of the major Rhode Island basins. Metrics of record length, regulation, physiographic region and physical and land-cover characteristics indicate that the streamflow-monitoring network represents a wide range of drainage-area sizes, physiographic regions, and basin characteristics. Most streamgage stations are affected by regulation, which provides information for specific water-management purposes, but diminishes the usefulness of these stations for many types of hydrologic analysis. Only 26 of the 103 active streamgage stations operated by the U.S. Geological Survey in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are unaffected by regulation; of these, 17 are in Massachusetts and 9 are in Rhode Island. The paucity of unregulated stations is particularly evident when the stations are grouped into five drainage-area size classes; the fact that about half of these size classes have no representative unregulated stations underscores the importance of establishing and maintaining stations that are unaffected by regulation. The observation-well network comprises 200 wells; 80 percent of these wells are finished in sand and gravel, 19 percent are finished in till, and 1 percent are finished in bedrock. About 6 percent of the wells are equipped with continuous data recorders, and about half of these are capable of transmitting data in near real time.
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The U.S. Geological Survey streamflow and observation-well network in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2003-277
DOI 10.3133/ofr03277
Edition -
Year Published 2003
Language ENGLISH
Description 120 p.
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