The department is a cooperator and supporter of the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Center (USGS) streamgage network. In Missouri, USGS maintains a network in Missouri of 274 stream gages and 14 stations monitoring water level in Missouri lakes and reservoirs. Current conditions for Missouri streamflow.
These gages can be equipped to monitor a wide variety of parameters, but are commonly used to measure stream stage (water level) and discharge. Stream stage is simply river depth set to a constant reference elevation, referred to as a datum, which lets the public know the river depth relative to that reference elevation which then can be compared to other fixed elevations (such as flood stage, bridge height, road elevation, etc.). River discharge is the volume of water moving down a stream or river per unit of time, commonly expressed in cubic feet per second (CFS) or gallons per day. Each gage is equipped with satellite telemetry to provide real-time information to the public. USGS serves this data on the internet and works to assure data quality and corrects data if needed to assure a high degree of accuracy.
The streamgage network supports the following uses, among others:
- Provide real-time and archived data to the public.
- Provide data for National Weather Service river forecasts (project river stages to help protect life and property of Missouri citizens).
- USGS StreamStats – Analytical tools for a variety of water-resources planning and management purposes, and for engineering and design purposes.
- Provide data for Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide accurate flood hazard zone designations.