How High’s the River?

Dear Reader,

With all the rain we got this last week you may be wondering what are the river levels like around the county? From my earlier post about watersheds in the county, we recall that the county is split into drainage basins for the Huron, Raisin, Rouge, Stony Creek, and Grand Rivers. The great news is that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a bunch of stream gages on these rivers and many of their tributaries. We can track river levels! Well sort of…the data is kind of limited but we do have something we can look at. There are about 8 gages for the whole county.



County Watersheds – Image courtesy of Washentaw County

USGS’s online mapping tool “National Water Information System: Mapper”  lets us look at all the stream gages in the county at once. Zooming in as best we can on Washtenaw County:


You can select only stream gages. Clicking on the gage near Manchester the following information pops up:


There is some basic information and we learn that this is a gage on the River Raisin. I’m interested in learning more and click on “access data”  which gives us some basic information about the gage:


We’re interested in water levels so we want to start exploring the available data from the top center drop down menu. For this example we’ll look at daily data and gage height only.

Below is the gage height data for the last week. Can you tell when the rain started?


On the USGS site we can also compare recent levels to the flood stage and historical levels. This gage at Manchester doesn’t have a flood stage level so we’ll pick one on Mill Creek near Dexter  that does have one to look at:


Pretty interesting! The water levels now are nowhere near flood stage. I’m also assuming the reason we never see Mill Creek go above flood stage is because there is a dam or other control work that makes sure the river tops out at 12 feet.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about the flooding that’s going on right on the Mississippi but here is what stream gage data looks like from there:


and from NOAA’s River Level Forecasting Tool – I hope people there are staying safe!


That’s all for now – Have a great week!


2 thoughts on “How High’s the River?

  1. We used this river gauges along the Maumee River to track the water levels to determine when we could send a drill rig into the river to drill for a bridge replacement in Waterville, Ohio. The river was too shallow to use a barge and we could not drill through the existing bridge deck because the new bridge would be offset from the existing bridge and would not give us subsurface data at the proposed pier locations. So we needed to find a moment when the river levels were shallow enough to feasibly drive the rig into the river and get our borings. Strong dolomite bedrock was at the riverbed level otherwise this would have been very difficult if we were dealing with soft riverbed deposits.

    Liked by 1 person

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