Stream gaging in the time of pandemic, Episode II

From the comments, DG elaborates on the task of stream gaging

And I can see our intrepid hydrotech out on a walkway at the ‘gage’ (thanks for that), laptop in hand. He’s cabled up to a Data Logger dumping the collected data that had accumulated since his last visit to the site some 4 to 6 weeks ago. He also checks the calibration of a Shaft Encoder a Pressure Probe or Bubbler. Any of these sensing elements needing some form of recalibration (they all drift to some degree). It’s windy and cold on the walkway but that doesn’t hinder our technician. As the log dumps into the laptop, he checks the site battery and the solar panel for the ever present bird droppings that accumulate on such an appealing perch. He mutters to himself that he’s sure glad that the avian flu is not his enemy this time around. Oh my? What is this? The mice have gotten back inside of the gage and have left their calling cards behind. The Gager rememberers a few years back about warnings of the Plague and the mice. Every Field Tech in the Southwest had heard about that and kept mice out of their beloved gages. He quickly gets a mask on, sprays over the soiled area and cleans the area to where it’s cleaner than an operating room. The mask, his gloves and soiled towels sealed tightly in a plastic bag.

Of course he muses to himself that working alone at this remote gage is the ideal example of Social Distancing. Nobody comes out to the gage on a cold and windy day. He would be in more peril back in the office next to hydrotech Johnson who is currently wheezing away…

One Comment

  1. All the above is of course true except for the hydrotech Johnson part. I added that in for comic relief. Truth be said, there are some risk elements when in the field. The bio hazards are real about the bird and mouse droppings. The hydrotech also has to be fully aware of any other problems that might occur on a site visit. Wasp nests being the worst. Next up, rattle snakes, scorpions, black widow and brown recluse spiders. Other site visitors can be Coyotes, wild pigs or people (people are the worst). Toss in Alcohol or other drugs into the mix and a site visit can go South real quick. Don’t get me wrong. We don’t see issues like this on a day to day basis but the risks are there.

    About hydrotechs: Most of the applicants we see nowadays have a college degree. We get some with Associate but mostly a mix of Bachelor and Master degree candidates. They’re smart and full of great questions. The hydrotech job being their first gig after graduating college. The job is demanding by any standard. Hours can be long and in extreme conditions (trust me on this). They ‘grow into the job’ as time progresses. After a season or two, they have connected the dots. Roughly half of their time is spent in the field. the other time is in the office doing support work and working on the data from their sites. Data is the end product. The Data HAS to be correct in the official record. Ever notice how the real time data you get from Reclamation and the USGS states ‘Provisional Data’? That’s because the hydrotech hasn’t reconciled it yet. Corrections happen after an analysis. You get the see the corrected totals in the Yearly Report. Quality Data costs money.

    I’ve known hydrotechs that had decades of experience in the field. They loved the work and the challenges that the job required. After a while you ignore the feeling of something crawling up your leg and hoping that it isn’t a Wasp. I loved field work too.


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