Engaging Citizen Science in Collecting Keene Brook Water Level Data
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Silver Jackets, a state-federal interagency flood risk management team, with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) as lead, is seeking the public’s help in collecting brook water level data. NHDES and the Silver Jackets have partnered with the City of Keene to establish a long-term dataset of water levels on Beaver Brook in Keene. As this brook has a history of flood issues and responds rapidly to flood events, multiple agencies, including federal partners, are hoping that citizens will report water levels during rain events to aid in real-time flood forecasting.
A readily accessible staff gage has been installed on Beaver Brook where it crosses Roxbury Street in Keene. To participate, volunteers can simply read the water level on the gage from the sidewalk and text the station number and reading to the phone number listed on the signs located on-site. Data from these submissions are then added to a long-term database and made available live on the website of CrowdHydrology, a nationwide crowdsourcing initiative that allows members of the public to provide water level data. CrowdHydrology processes the text and uploads the stream stage to its database for immediate public use. The site in Keene is the first of this type in New Hampshire, and data collected during rain events can be valuable for flood forecasting and response.
“We wanted to provide the opportunity for citizens and those interested in rivers and the environment to engage with collecting data in real-time, at any time, that also provides direct benefit to public safety and rivers management,” said Shane Csiki, State Geologist and Director of the New Hampshire Geological Survey at NHDES, and chair of the New Hampshire Silver Jackets.
Citizen science with real-time reporting provides information to organizations managing flood forecasting and response, while also seeking to establish a long-term record, on smaller streams that do not have live gages already on them. Engaging citizens and the public directly is one tool that supports greater information gathering about streamflow conditions in New Hampshire.