Surface-Water Stations

PERIOD OF PROJECT: Continuous since 1902
PROJECT CHIEF: Greg Nalley Email Greg Nalley
STUDY AREA: Statewide


US Army Corps of Engineers (Rock Island, Omaha, Kansas City and St. Paul Districts), Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Geological Survey Bureau), Iowa Department of Transportation (Highway Division, Highway Research Advisory Board), University of Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research, Iowa State University, City of Ames, City of Bettendorf, City of Bloomfield, Buchanan County Emergency Management, City of Cedar Falls, City of Cedar Rapids, City of Charles City, City of Clear Lake, City of Clinton, City of Coralville, City of Davenport, Decorah Water Department, City of Des Moines, Des Moines Water Works, City of Fort Dodge, City of Iowa City, Lake Delhi Recreation Association, Lake Panorama Association, Limestone Bluffs RC&D, City of Marshalltown, City of Milford, City of Mount Pleasant, City of Ottumwa, Ottumwa Water and Hydro, City of Sioux City, City of Waterloo, City of Waverly, Union Electric Company.


Streamflow supplies water for many uses, including domestic, commercial, and industrial uses; irrigation of crops; dilution and transport for removal of wastes; hydroelectric power generation; commercial transport; and recreation. Streamflow records are used to develop reliable surface-water supplies because they provide information on the availability and variability of streamflow. Excessive streamflow, or flooding can cause extensive damage and hardship. Records of floods obtained at streamflow-gaging stations serve as the basis for the design of bridges, culverts, dams, and flood-warning systems. Streamflow records are used in the planning and design of surface-water related projects and in the management or operation of such projects after they are completed.


To collect surface-water data sufficient to satisfy the needs for current uses, such as:

  1. Assessment of Water Resources
  2. Operation of Reservoirs or Industries
  3. Forecasting
  4. Pollution Control and Disposal of Wastes
  5. Discharge data to accompany Water-Quality measurements
  6. Contract and Legal requirements
  7. Research or special studies
  8. To collect the data necessary for analytical studies to define, for any location, the statistical properties and trends in discharge or elevation of streams, lakes, and reservoirs.


Surface-water data were collected, compiled, and published through the 2000 water year, with 2001 publication set for April 2002. The 1998-2000 Annual Data Reports are on-line under Publications. The data network presently (2001) consists of 129 full stream-flow gaging stations and 17 stage-only stream, lake, or reservoir stations. Ninety-two stations also are equipped with precipitation gages. Click here for a map of gaging station locations.

In 2001, the federally funded National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP) provided funding to upgrade six surface-water monitoring gages to satellite telemetry and provided the funding for it's installation of Rock River at Rock Rapids, Iowa and Turkey River at Elkader, Iowa.

In late April of 2001, the USGS Iowa District office field personnel made a series of peak flow discharge measurements on the Mississippi River as they followed the flood crest down river. The USGS also collected a series of water quality samples associated with its peak flow discharge measurements.