Cost effectiveness of stream-gaging program in Michigan

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4293




This report documents the results of a study of the cost effectiveness of the stream-gaging program in Michigan. Data uses and funding sources were identified for the 129 continuous gaging stations being operated in Michigan as of 1984. One gaging station was identified as having insufficient reason to continue its operation. Several stations were identified for reactivation, should funds become available, because of insufficiencies in the data network.

Alternative methods of developing streamflow information based on routing and regression analyses were investigated for 10 stations. However, no station records were reproduced with sufficient accuracy to replace conventional gaging practices. A cost-effectiveness analysis of the data-collection procedure for the ice-free season was conducted using a Kalman-filter analysis. To define missing-record characteristics, cross-correlation coefficients and coefficients of variation were computed at stations on the basis of daily mean discharge. Discharge-measurement data were used to describe the gage/discharge rating stability at each station.

The results of the cost-effectiveness analysis for a 9-month ice-free season show that the current policy of visiting most stations on a fixed servicing schedule once every 6 weeks results in an average standard error of 12.1 percent for the current $718,100 budget. By adopting a flexible servicing schedule, the average standard error could be reduced to 11.1 percent. Alternatively, the budget could be reduced to $700,200 while maintaining the current level of accuracy. A minimum budget of $680,200 is needed to operate the 129-gaging-station program; a budget less than this would not permit proper service and maintenance of stations. At the minimum budget, the average standard error would be 14.4 percent. A budget of $789,900 (the maximum analyzed) would result in a decrease in the average standard error to 9.07 percent.

Owing to continual changes in the composition of the network and the changes in the uncertainties of streamflow accuracy at individual stations, the cost-effectiveness analysis will need to be updated regularly if it is to be used as a management tool. Cost of these updates need to be considered in decisions concerning the feasibility of flexible servicing schedules.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Cost effectiveness of stream-gaging program in Michigan
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Lansing, MI
Contributing office(s):
Michigan Water Science Center
v, 72 p.
United States