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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: July 30, 2003
Bob Kimbrough
253-428-3600, ext. 2608

John Clemens
253-428-3600, ext. 2635

Cedar River Sets Record Low Flow

One of Seattle's major water supplies set record low flows for several days in July, and other Washington rivers are seeing some of the lowest daily flows in years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

During the past three weeks at the stream-gaging station on the Cedar River near Cedar Falls, flows have dipped below the all-time lowest flows for July since stream measurements began at that station in 1946.

“In some rivers, flows are lower than in 1992 or 2001, both of which were drought years,” said USGS hydrologist Bob Kimbrough. “Streamflow is certainly well below average for this time of year. Most of the snowpack below 6,000 feet has melted off, so we aren’t expecting river flows to increase.”

Other rivers in Washington are in similar shape.

Data from the stream-gaging station on the Chehalis River near Grand Mound shows that flows are also lower than in 2001, although flows are still higher than the record minimums. The flow during this time of year has been lower in only three years of the station's 75-year history.

Current flows in the Skykomish River near Gold Bar are also lower than in 2001 and are among the lowest in the station's 75-year history.

The Wenatchee River at Peshastin has flows above the minimum flows and drought-year flows for July, but the flows are well below the long-term average since measurements began in 1929.

Flows in the Spokane River at Spokane during the last week of July are below those of 2001 and trending down to the historical minimum. The stream-gaging station at Spokane is the oldest in the state, going back to 1895.

The USGS operates a system of about 200 stream-gaging stations on rivers across the state, most of them equipped to send river data by satellite to the Internet. The automated USGS system provides streamflow data used by the National Weather Service, the Corps of Engineers, and other agencies to manage rivers and issue flood warnings.

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