The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is hoping that members of the House of Representatives take a careful look at a list it is now circulating that names dozens of specific stream gages that have been scheduled to be constructed, reactivated, or hardened against failure, but that could be delayed if Congress does not appropriate sufficient funding. Forewarned are dozens of congressmen, including those whose districts encompass the Sacramento River at Sacramento, California; Cowskin Creek at Highway 54 at Wichita, Kansas; the Red River at Grand Forks, North Dakota; and the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

The Clinton Administration has requested a fiscal year 2001 increase of $4 million to USGS' $90 million annual budget for stream gages. The Survey funds about half of the cost of the network, with cost-sharing partners providing the rest. However, a recent House Appropriations Subcommittee mark-up would result in the loss of about 115 gages, which is about 2% of the 7000 gages in the USGS network, according to a brief prepared by the USGS budget office. The subcommittee provides $1.7 million for water activities under the USGS Real Time Hazards Initiative, but fails to cover $2.3 million in pay raises and anticipated uncontrollable costs, the brief indicates.