Weather Forecast


Granite Falls to share in the costs for river monitor gauge

GRANITE FALLS -- An automated flood monitoring gauge will be installed on the Minnesota River in Granite Falls after City Council members agreed to share in its costs.

The new ga-uge will help improve the ac-curacy of flood forecasting for the area, and help city officials make the best decisions when flooding is a threat, according to Mayor David Smiglewski.

"There is too much of a risk for us to be flying in the dark,'' he said.

At the meeting Tuesday, Granite Falls City Council members approved purchasing the automated gauge under a grant program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA will pay 75 percent of the estimated $22,000 cost for the device, with the city responsible for an estimated $5,500.

As part of the agreement, the city will also share ongoing operations and maintenance costs for the device with the United States Geological Survey. The annual operating and maintenance costs are estimated at $13,000, with the USGS responsible for 40 percent and the city 60 percent of them, or $7,800.

The new gauge is expected to be installed sometime this summer, possibly August. There is some hope that a temporary gauge could be installed to serve the city this spring when flooding is expected, according to Mayor Smiglewski.

The new gauge is being made possible through work by the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. Diane Cooper, hydrologist, helped argue the need for it, according to the mayor. He said the Weather Service wants data from the gauge so that flood forecasts can be specific to the conditions and variables of the river at Granite Falls.

The city has relied on a manually operated gauge to this point. The city attempts to take readings at 12-hour intervals by using the gauge.

The automated gauge will give continuous, real-time readings and beam the information to the USGS and National Weather Service flood forecast center.

There is an automated gauge located on the Minnesota River in Montevideo. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also monitors flows and water levels at its dams located upstream at Lac qui Parle and Big Stone Lakes.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335