Gauging The River Soon Gets Harder

In 2014, an odd contraption appeared on the side of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

It was a tidal gauge and and storm surge monitor. The US Geological Survey installed it, to help improve the town’s warning, mitigation and prevention capabilities. It was funded entirely by the federal government.

Ruth Steinkraus Cohen river gauge.

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Extremely alert “06880” reader Thomas Quealy spotted this on USGS website:

Data collection at the following gage [sic] will be discontinued on December 31, 2017 due to funding reductions from partner agencies. Although historic data will remain accessible, no new data will be collected unless one or more new funding partners are found. Users who can contribute funding for the non-Federal share of costs to continue operation of this streamgage [sic] should contact Timothy Sargent at the USGS New England Water Science Center – Connecticut Office (860-291-6754) or email at

Which “gage” was listed?

You guessed it: “01209510 Saugatuck River at Route 1 at Westport.”


11 responses to “Gauging The River Soon Gets Harder

  1. “The spelling variants gauge and gage have existed since the first recorded uses in Middle English, though in American English gage is found exclusively in technical uses”

  2. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I’m not a Libertarian but if there was ever an example of unsolicited and unnecessary “mission creep” by the Federal government this is it.
    I know!!! Let’s start gathering data on what has been a natural occurrence for eons, where there has been no prior demand or stated need. Let’s do it at a venue that probably more than any other can afford to do it themselves if, indeed they care about it. If they’d built Westport five miles up the river instead of on a tidal basin this wouldn’t have happened in the 1st place. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

    • Yeah, who needs science and an overall coordinating capability to understand how the world works and relationships between seemingly unconnected events? I’m sure the folks who installed that gauge/gage had no idea that the town was flooded several times in the last decade and just wanted to waste your money.

      Most people have no idea how society’s progress has been/is made possible by science that you would consider “mission creep”. Like our Secretary of Energy who wanted to abolish the Dept of Energy because he didn’t realize that most of its budget is dealing with protecting or country from nuclear disaster (despite him being a governor of a state that is a major participant in that effort.) – Chris Woods

      • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

        You have to draw the line, somewhere Chris.
        I know that can be hard to comprehend when you are fortunate enough to have plenty of money but unfortunate enough not to know what to do with it. We have a multi-trillion dollar deficit and we have thousands of women begging for justice from their abusers in government. Which would you rather spend money on; slush funds paid for by the public to make the victims go away or data gathering on the Saugatuck river? Better yet, why not make the right decision in the 1st place? Does your $750 toilet seat have a butt-warmer? You should run for Congress to keep America “great”.

        • Do you have any idea what the program is for, why it was implemented in the first place and what it costs?

          Saying that not looking to understand repeated and extremely costly downtown flooding with will solve sexual harassment problems is a novel argument! – chris woods

          • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

            Chris…..have you ever overdrawn your checking account? its called setting priorities (I know that’s a relatively obscure concept for people who have more of everything than they need). If the town has experienced “repeated and extremely costly downtown flooding” what will river gauging by the Federal government accomplish other than to provide data that’s already been learned from experience? Do you think that it is the responsibility of the entire country to pay for what is truly a local and relatively insignificant problem like when the downtown Starbucks is closed by a once in ten years tidal surge? I suppose when someone double-parks at the other Starbucks across town and Dan mentions it every other week in his blog that your solution would be to call out the National Guard.

    • Well said, Eric. Downtown is a flood zone. We all know this and act accordingly. BTW, our Disaster Mitigation Plan cheerfully notes that anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in the downtown area has about 15 minutes to live if the Sam Senior Dam upstream blows. That nanny gauge isn’t going to change a thing any more than a nightlight would.

  3. Robert Mitchell

    What about the companion gauge on Ford Road?

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I think the a special prosecutor should investigate whether the use of “gage/guage” versus “gouge” was a typo.

    • But what happens should a special prosecutor be appointed to oversee the special prosecutor and differs with the special prosecutor’s decision?