Instrumentation for measuring and recording streamflow data at river-control structures

Open-File Report 83-872




Instrumentation was developed in the mid to late 60 's to resolve the dilemma of intolerably high percentages of missing streamflow records on certain large and highly controlled streams in industrialized parts of the United States. Analysis of the field situation at specific problem sites quickly suggested that conventional stream gaging techniques should be supplanted by new instruments, designed to measure key hydraulic data at the nearest stream control structures. The key data were found universally to include some combination of a length measurement to specify the vertical height of a gate opening in a dam; measurement of pressure head differential in a turbine; a count of lockages; and precise measurement of time, to give one master reference scale to which all measurements could be keyed. The instruments designed to collect such key data are the shaft position digitizer, the shaft output follower, the STACOM manometer, the lock pressure switch, and the digital data collection console. Although their design was prompted by the need to collect data at river control structures their potential for field use is not that restrictive. Several of these instruments have already found widespread use in the hydrologic data collection program at large. In the 12-1/2 yr period from June 1968 to December 1980 nineteen different river control structures were instrumented. The general experience to date has been a marked improvement in completeness of record, with the average performance somewhere in the 80 percentile range. Performance percentiles at individual sites have ranged from the mid 90 's to about 70. Maintenance records show the instruments to be virtually trouble free, except for the unpredictable acts of nature and man. (Author 's abstract)

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Instrumentation for measuring and recording streamflow data at river-control structures
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
iv, 33 p. :ill. ;28 cm.