It’s not a boondoggle, but the U.S. Government is full of agencies we don’t really understand who do things nobody ever told us about, so if you asked me yesterday, “What is the USGS?” I would’ve said, “I don’t really know.”
But after running into one of their solar powered, radio communicating, live sensor data “stream gaging stations,” at Turner River in the Collier County section of the Everglades called Big Cypress National Preserve, I did a little research and figured it out.
The USGS are the United States Geological Survey, and their main purpose is “To monitor, analyze, and predict current and evolving dynamics of complex human and natural Earth-system interactions and to deliver actionable intelligence at scales and timeframes relevant to decision makers.”
Basically they are mappers, scientists, and database experts who record, report, publish, and correlate data from the natural environment. Pretty cool job.
And that sensor box in the photo at the beginning of this article is delivering live data to the internet right at this very moment, and you can see it for yourself along with all of the other sensors in their public network.
This box is called: USGS 02288800 – TAMIAMI CANAL OUTLETS, MONROE TO CARNESTOWN, FLA
The box reads, “USGS. Science for a changing world. Stream gaging station. Operated by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with federal, state, and local agencies. This station is part of a national network for obtaining water-resources information. The recorded water level and corresponding rate of flow are used for flood forecasting, reservoir operations, design of bridges and culverts, interstate and intrastate water-rights claims, and many other projects.”
This particular box is part of the USGS National Water Dashboard.
Good old stream gage box 02288800 is also monitored by the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, and the National Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program.
The data is a bit clunky if you’re not an expert, but it goes back for decades, which is pretty cool. So if you are good at teaching yourself, seeing patterns, and making informed predictions, this is a great tool for you. Check it out.