2016 Funding Priority | Amount needed $16,000 | FUNDED
Upgrades to Real-time Stream Gauge on the Nisqually River, Mount Rainier National Park, for Visitor, Employee, and Downstream Citizen Safety
This proposal describes upgrading stream measuring equipment on the Nisqually River at Longmire in Mount Rainier National Park. The Nisqually River drains the Nisqually Glacier, one of the largest south-facing glaciers in Mount Rainier. Recent studies on flooding and debris flows and the melting of glaciers due to regional climate change is increasing our knowledge about the possibility of sudden surges of debris and water on the Nisqually River. However, without monitoring equipment, these surges can be missed. Flooding downstream from these surges can result in monetary damage as well as loss of life. Limiting the loss of life and infrastructure damage is the primary aim of this project, and information from this measuring station would be publicly accessible and available to emergency management personnel, park staff, and interested citizens.
The glacier has a history of releasing damaging floods and debris flows (mud, rocks and trees). These events have happened in 1926, 1932, 1934, 1947 and 1955, and all affected park buildings, roads and trails. This eventually led to the construction of the tall Nisqually River Bridge. Additional outburst floods have been seen in 2010 and it is likely that other floods have occurred but have been missed because of a lack of stream measurement. The United States Geological Survey attempted to gauge the Nisqually River in the 1960s, but the effort was soon abandoned.
The primary aim of the project is to increase the scientific knowledge about stream flows in the Nisqually River basin. In current condition, we have a significant gap in our understanding of stream flows in this area of the park. This is an additional concern that the Longmire area is especially susceptible to damage from floods from the Nisqually. The information learned from this project will be useful to park and local scientists as the anticipated effects of regional climate change become apparent.