Palo has river gauge installed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Palo has river gauge installed

PALO (KWWL) - It's a piece of equipment the city of Palo has wanted for several years, and they finally have it. The US Geological Survey finished installing a river gauge at the Cedar River about two weeks ago.

City officials say it will allow them to react much faster, in future flooding situations.

"If we can provide a better early-warning system, a more believable early-warning system, then maybe there'll be less property loss," said Tom Watson, responsible for Palo infrastructure.

That's exactly what he hopes this metal cabinet, packed with sensors, will provide for Palo citizens. He says it will give the city a far more accurate estimation of how high the Cedar River will rise, and how fast.

"When they say it's 27 feet in Cedar Rapids, we'll now be able to correlate that back and see what it is here."

It fills a large gap between other USGS gauges stretching from Waterloo to Cedar Rapids.

Technically, the Palo has had a river gauge for several years. It involved the city's now-former fire chief, Jim West, coming down the Cedar River Bridge and using something a bit more old-fashioned. It involved dropping a string with a weight tied to the end, into the water until it stopped its descent.

West likes to joke that his way was better. "I'd put that up against the new one," he told us.

He also found the river's height relative to the bridge from drawings of the structure when it was built in 1983.

"We found that same spot on the drawings, and was able to figure out what the elevation was if it came to that point."

But, he admits this method will be much easier.

Watson agrees, and feels this is the next best thing to flood-stopping hardware, which won't be installed for a while.

"We can't get a dike built this year, we can't get a levy built, Cedar Rapids can't, nobody can," said Watson. "You can't move fast enough."

Anybody can now go online to the USGS website, and see what the Cedar River at Palo is up to. The measurements are updated every 2 hours.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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