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USGS Celebrates a Century of Monitoring the Flint River in Bainbridge, Georgia


Join us on Monday, October 1 at 2:00 pm in the Pavilion in Cheney Griffin Park along the Flint River in Bainbridge.

Officials from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the City of Bainbridge, the National Weather Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division are marking the 100th anniversary of the start of monitoring at the Flint River at Bainbridge. A plaque commemorating the event will be mounted near the public pavilion at Cheney Griffin Park in Bainbridge, just downstream of the bridge where the gage is located.

On October 1, 1907, the Bainbridge streamgage began reporting the volume of water flowing in the Flint River and its height. Through droughts, floods, and disputes over water availability, the station provided important information for public safety and resource management. The Bainbridge streamgage is the 18th gage in Georgia with more than 100 years of operation, and one of a small number of gages in the network of more than 7400 gages in the U.S. that have 100-year records.

The Flint River begins in an unlikely place, a culvert just north of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It then flows beneath the runways of the world’s busiest airport. Along its 350 mile course, it supports an ecosystem of plants and animals, including the bald eagle. It is home to more than 15 different endangered species of mussels and wildlife. It supplies water to Lake Seminole and to a system of wetlands. It also is a primary contributor to recharging the Floridan aquifer, the main groundwater source supporting agriculture and residential development in South Georgia. The Flint River generates electric power and provides drinking water to many communities and supports a large recreational and sport fishing industry along its length.

Notable in the Flint River’s history are its floods. When the Bainbridge gage reaches 25 feet, the river is at flood stage. On January 24, 1925 the record height was set for the gage at 40.90 feet. On July 14, 1994, another record flood resulted when several days of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Alberto caused the highest flow volume to date measured at the gage — 108,000 cubic feet per second.

More recently, the gage has been setting records for low flow. On September 13, 2002, the minimum daily mean flow record was set at 1190 cubic feet per second. Prior to the completion of Woodruff Dam to impound Lake Seminole, the lowest daily mean stage was 1.98 feet on March 9, 1952. After impoundment of Lake Seminole, which created backwater conditions on the Flint River in Bainbridge, the stage has increased on average more than 10 feet at the gage.

The gage still reports the river’s flow – now using acoustic velocity technology – and height; it also monitors precipitation and meteorological conditions, reporting the data in near real-time via satellite telemetry to users around the world, including anyone with an internet connection. The gage reports data to the National Weather Service for forecasting floods and issuing warnings to emergency managers and to the public. The most downstream of 27 gages in the Flint River Basin, the Bainbridge gage provides critical information in management of this important water, biological and economic resource.


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