GARDEN CITY – The U.S. Geological Survey team installed a real-time lake level gauge at the Bear Lake State Park Marina, 940 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, on Oct. 16 and 17 to measure the level of the lake.
The real-time lake level gauge will not only measure lake level, it will also measure temperature and precipitation.
Claudia Cottle, the co-executive director of Bear Lake Watch, said the group has been trying to make measuring the lake easier for years.
“We have been trying to get a better way to measure the depth of the water for years,” said Cottle. “We had one put in made by a Logan company, but it didn’t last.”
She said for the last 100 years or so, the power company has measured the lake elevation using a staff gauge. That staff gauge was originally located at the Lifton Pumping Station, near North Beach on the Idaho side, but more recently was changed to the marina in Garden City.
“Every measurement required a power company employee to drive to the marina to read the gauge,” Cottle said. “They also had to evaluate the weather and analyze the winds that impacted the reading, then report that reading to the Salt Lake City office where the data was recorded and put on a website.”
She said when the wind blew, the elevation of the lake changed in different parts of the lake.
“To have a better gauge that could monitor the lake during the high winds will help us understand the lake better,” she said. “After two or three years of discussions, negotiations and meetings, Bear Lake now has a new and better way of measuring the elevation of the lake.”
The new gauge readings are recorded every 15 minutes, the lake level is recorded in both North American Vertical Datam and Utah Power & Light.
“These readings will also be uploaded to a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite every hour,” she said. “All the data can be accessed through the USGS National Water Information System.”
Additionally, two years ago USGS also launched two floating platforms that monitor and quantify current water quality and weather conditions, and build a robust baseline data set that can be used to assess future water quality changes. These platforms are in year two of a five year program.
A secondary objective for the launch of the small barges was to assess spatial water quality, weather, and evaporation rate variability across the lake. Data provided by the buoys will help quantify and assess a host of other scientific issues at Bear Lake.
“Good data can help make better decisions concerning Bear Lake,” Cottle said. “It’s great to see progress that happens because of partnerships.”
Ryan Rowland from a Supervisory Hydrologist, Surveillance Section, said they put in a lake elevation water gauge in Bear Lake.
“We also have lake elevation gauges in the Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell,” Rowland said. “The reason people come to us is they like to have a third party collect the data.”
He said the reason the USGS was selected is they are interested in the data only and not in any political interest concerning the water in Utah and Idaho.
“Our mission is to serve the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and, enhance and protect our quality of life,” Rowland said.