Budget pressures -- at least politically perceived ones -- are threatening basic science about the nation's water resources. In recent years the US Geologican Survey has cut back its programs for measuring streamflow and water quality -- which help protect people from flood disasters and drinking unhealthful water.
"Unless it’s in a bucket or a measuring cup, water isn’t exactly the easiest substance to track. Ever-changing, from vapor to solid to liquid, and ever-moving, from stream to river to lake to ocean, it can be tough to measure.
So for years, ranchers, town planners and even angler and kayakers have relied on a huge network of streamflow gages maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey to help monitor water quality, measure and predict peak spring runoff and flooding potential, or even just the best time run some whitewater or to go fishing. In some places, the streamflow information is critical to helping protect endangered species.
But that network is shrinking, due mainly to budget constraints that already forced the USGS to shut down stations around the country. Just in the past few years, the agency stopped operating 133 water quality stations, many in New Mexico and Florida."