Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mystery of the Month - February

Here at RWMWD we do lots of things that might make a device like this one useful; we make coffee, some of us make beer (at home of course), some of us use speakers and megaphones to educate, and others of us use sieves to separate macroinvertebrates from their mucky home. 

So many potential uses, but this device is not used for any one of these. Think you know what it *is* used for? 

The object in this month's Mystery of the Month is a rain gauge. 
Currently, the District manages three of these rain gauges within our boundary (65 sq. miles). They are located on our office site roof, the Maplewood Mall roof and one at the Alum Treatment Facility (located near Tanners Lake). We also monitor rain depths on the ground at our office site and at locations monitored on the website Weather Underground.
Taking a peek inside our higher-tech rain gauges.

Why do we track so many rain gauges?

Well, rain distribution and intensity can fluctuate a great deal over a very short distance. You may have noticed that the airport gets more or maybe less rain than you do in your backyard, for example.

This uneven rainfall distribution is one of the main reasons the RWMWD needs a handful of rain gauges strategically placed throughout the District. Rain data plays a vital role in water quality/quantity when determining size of a project, lake levels, flood control, creek flows, pollutant loading, estimating how much water is flowing off our streets and rooftops, and so much more.  We use this rain data a lot.

Store-bought or even home-made rain gauges are also one of the cheapest and easiest ways for you to start learning about how your yard affects the water bodies around you.  Some simple math can help you determine how much rainwater falls on your entire property each time it rains.  With a little extra work to determine the area of your 'impervious surfaces' (driveway, roof, patio, etc.) you can determine how much flows off your property untreated.  I can almost promise you'll be amazed at how many gallons it is!

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