Maryland Department of Natural Resources


A strategy for a stream-gaging network in Maryland

2000, Cleaves, E.T.; Doheny, E.J.

Report of Investigations 71


This report was prepared by the Stream-Gage Committee of the Maryland Water Monitoring Council. The Committee has been guided by the discussions and recommendations of a stream-gaging workshop (convened by the Council on October 16, 1997) and by responses to a data-users questionnaire sent by the Committee to 500 users of stream-gage data.

The Maryland Water Monitoring Council Stream-Gage Committee recommends that Maryland’s stream-gaging network be increased from 97 gages (in existence as of November 15, 1999) to 157 gages. The additional gages should be activated in stages according to six priority management goals: Coastal Plain Harmful Algal Blooms, small watersheds, core network, Clean Water Action Plan, flood hazard, and other unmet coverage (core/trend network, unmet 6- or 8-digit Hydrologic Unit Codes, unmet spatial coverage, and unmet physical-matrix categories….Drought assessment is also a major concern, and requires the continued operation of stream gages with long-term records.

Stream gages are operated throughout Maryland to meet numerous water-resources management goals of Federal, State, and local government agencies. Streamflow data are crucial to water-resources management goals in three fundamental ways – evaluation of current conditions, watershed management and planning, and decision-support systems. Evaluation of current conditions includes issues related to (1) accounting for and tracking the distribution of streamflow, (2) regional and area assessments, (3) water quality, (4) ecosystems and aquatic living resources, (5) recreation, and (6) flood-hazard warning. In the area of watershed management and planning, streamflow data is basic to issues such as stream protection and restoration, water quality, forecasting floods and droughts, and living resources (ecosystems). The stream-gaging network is also a vital decision-support system in which streamflow data area collected at the gages and then transmitted to a data-collection center. The data are then placed in a data base that is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Data from the data base are made publicly available in near real-time on the Internet, or in paper copy. This system supports many information and assessment needs for environmental management purposes, including emergencies such as flooding, contaminant spills, fish kills, or sediment violations, as well as modeling and model calibration, and research.