Officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey (USGS) from Little Rock were in Mammoth Spring earlier this month to update the stream gauge on the Spring River.
Jaysson Funkhouser a surface-water specialist with USGS said this past September a series of thunderstorms with heavy rain occurred in and around Sharp and Fulton Counties.
Between 10- and 15-inches of rain fell causing severe flooding that damaged homes, businesses, campgrounds, county roads and resulted in the loss of two lives in the area.
"Water levels at the streamflow gauging station at the Town Branch Bridge at Hardy were the highest recorded levels since its inception," Funkhouser said. The water level at the streamflow gauging station rose 13-feet in less than 12-hours with nearly an eight foot rise occurring in less than two-and-one-half hours.
Funkhouser said in an effort to prevent future loss of lives and limit the amount of damage sustained during a flood event, the city of Hardy and other towns and communities along the upper Spring River need a network of instruments installed on the river and its significant tributaries to serve as an early warning system.
The USGS, in collaboration with the National Weather Service has developed a proposed minimum network of stream and rainfall gages on the upper Spring River that would serve as an early warning system for citizens of the area.
In the past, there have been two such systems in the area, at Mammoth Spring and at Hardy. The new systems will be installed on the Myatt Creek and the South Fork tributary on the Spring River.
Funkhouser and his crew were in Mammoth Spring at the Mammoth Spring State Park where the stream gauge is installed to update the devise.
He said the gauges had been at the park since 1981.
"The gauge shows how much water flows from the spring head, gives the air temperature, monitors the water temperature as well as monitors rainfall," he said.
He said on the average, 200,000 gallons of water flows from the spring head a minute.
He said in all there are 130 such gauges across the state.
Funkhouser said the gauge system is equipped with a data collection platform that will record the stage and rainfall data in 15-minute increments and transmit data to the USGS office in Little Rock via satellite telemetry once every hour except during alarm (flooding) conditions, where readings will be transmitted more frequently.
He said the data will be stored in the USGS database and posted on the Arkansas Water Science Center's Web page located at www.ar.water.usgs.gov. The data collection platforms will all be equipped with a phone modem and will be programmed with alarm triggers for rainfall.
Funkhouser said the phone modem will serve as the primary mode of alarm. "At any time of day, USGS personnel can call any monitoring location via the phone modem and listen to a recording of the most current conditions logged at the site," he said. When an alarm is triggered at a site with a phone modem, the data collection platform will place a phone call to designated emergency response personnel.