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Theft and Vandalism to Streamflow Gages

Updated September 2004

Snoqualmie River below Snoqualmie Falls near Carnation
Snoqualmie River below
Snoqualmie Falls near
Carnation

The U.S. Geological Survey occasionally experiences damage from vandalism at our streamflow measuring stations. Recent occurrences resulted in the loss of real-time data from the following stations, and the time, people, and money to replace the equipment and repair the damage to the station.

Damage from vandalism from 1998 are summarized below in chronological order. Damage to gages and telemetry disrupted the data collection at the site and the real-time data where the station was equipped with Data Collection Platform for satellite telemetry. This report will be updated as necessary, or repairs are made and stations returned to operation.

The US Geological Survey operates streamflow gages in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local government agencies for the collection, understanding and analysis of the water resources in Washington. The loss of or damage to gages is a loss of data and information for everyone needing data from these sites for the operation and management of the water resources of the State.

1998 Water Year

White River near Auburn (12100496)

This gage is critical to Puget Sound Energy for their operations and Pierce County River Improvement District for their flood monitoring and warning.

This gage was vandalized Friday morning January 30, 1998. Valuable stage sensing and recording instruments were stolen.

Information about this incident can be report to the Pacific Police Department, Officer Redding, case number #98166, at telephone (253) 833-8486, or to the U.S. Geological Survey office, Tom Zembrzuski, at (253) 428-3600.

Skagit River near Marblemount (12181000

This gage is critical to the City of Seattle for the operations of the reservoirs on the Skagit River, and Skagit County and other agencies for emergency and water resources managment.

On February 3, 1998 the gage was vandalized with some damage to the outside of the station and the external equipment. The station was restored to operation February 7th.

Skagit River near Rockport (12184700)

This gage is critical to the City of Seattle for the operations of the reservoirs on the Skagit River, and Skagit County and other agencies for emergency and water resources management.

On February 3, 1998 the gage was vandalized with minor damage and the loss of some equipment.

Columbia River at the International Boundary (12399500)

This gage is critical to US and Canadian agencies for the understanding and management of rivers along the international border, to the International Joint Commission (IJC), and the Bureau of Reclamation.

The gage was vandalized about April 28, 1998. A Bureau technician reported extensive damage to the power system, instruments and telemetry equipment. A report was filed with the Stevens County Sheriff's office.

The gage was restored to near full operation over the next few months and the case of the vandalism was closed.

1999 Water Year

North River near Raymond (12017000)

The gage is critical to the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies studying the freshwater inflows and the estuarine environment of Willapa Bay.

The gage was vandalized sometime between May 14 and June 9, 1999. The sensor equipment, recording instrumentation, wire-weight gage, and power supply were all destroyed. We lost 49 days of record and besides replacing all the equipment, it took over a week of time to restore the gage to operation.

2000 Water Year

Nisqually River near National (12082500)- 2000 and July 2002

This gage is critical to Tacoma Public Utilities for the management of Alder and LaGrande Reservoirs as the inflow station into their reservoir system. It is also important to property owners in the upper Nisqually River basin.

The gage was vandalized on January 15, 2000. An inspection of the gage discovered equipment estimated at $800 was stolen, and several person-days of work were expended to repair the damage and return the station and telemetry to operation on Januay 18th.

People with information about this are encouraged to call the Pierce County Sheriff Office, case number 00-018-0608.

The gage was vandalized again June 25, 2000 between 9 and 10 am. The air temperature and precipitation instruments were damaged along with the protective housing for the sensors. The cost to initially repair the damage was estimaged at $500 with additional costs later to replace some of the equipment.

People with information about this are encouraged to call the Pierce County Sheriff Office, case number 00-199-0591.

2001 Water Year

Mashel River near LaGrande (12087000)

This gage is critical to the various agencies involved with the water resources and fisheries in the Nisqually River basin.

The gage was vandalized January 9, 2001 between 7:00 and 7:30 pm when the power system and stage sensor system were stolen and the sensor line to the river was damaged. Estimated cost is $1,000.

People with information about this are encouraged to call the Pierce County Sheriff Office, case number 01-061-0783.

North Fork Clover Creek near Parkland (12090400)

The gage is critical for the management of the water resources in the Clover Creek basin.

The gage was vandalized August 23, 2001, when the satellite antenna was removed.

2002 Water Year

Puyallup River near Orting (12093500)

This gage is critical to the various agencies involved with the management of streamflow in the Puyallup River, such as the Army Corps of Engineers and Pierce County Surface Water Management.

The gage was vandalized March 17, 2002 after 4:30pm. The gate, satellite antenna and various cables were damaged or destroyed. Estimated cost is $1,000.

Chehalis River near Satsop (12035002)

This is a new gage to assess the streamflow and water temperature of the Chehalis River between the Satsop and Wynoochee River above most tide effects.

In August 2001 a temporary submersible pressure transducer was stolen from its 12-inch beam in the river. The instrument was installed in early August in prepartion for a permanent gage the following summer.

On June 18, 2002, the support structure and battery system was found missing from the beam. This equipment was installed in preparation for a sophisticated instrument package to measure stage, velocity, direction, and flow in the Chehalis Rive below the Satsop River.

Nisqually River near National (12082500)

This gage is critical to Tacoma Public Utilities for the management of Alder and LaGrande Reservoirs as the inflow station into their reservoir system. It is also important to property owners in the upper Nisqually River basin.

The gage was vandalized Friday May 17, 2002, between 5:30 and 7:00 pm when the gage house and stage and precipitation instruments were shot with a AK-47-type rifle. The measuring cableway was also damaged by severing the 1-inch main cable and removing the anchor hardware.

People with information about this are encouraged to call the Pierce County Sheriff Office, case number 02-141-0312.

Speelyai Creek near Cougar (14219800)

This gage is critical for the operation and management of the Yale Reservoir and Lake Merwin reservoir projects.

The gage was vandalized July 18, 2002 after 6:00 pm, when sensing, control, and recording instruments with the telephone telemetry and power supply equipment were removed. Estimated value is $6,000.

People with information about his case are encouraged to call the Cowlitz County Sheriff Office, case number 02-9124.

2003 Water Year

Puyallup River near Alderton (12096500)

This gage is critical for the management of the Puyallup River especially during floods and low flow periods.

The gage was vandalized on December 26, 2002, when most of the instruments, transmitting equipment, and power supply were taken. Estimated value is $20,000.

People with information about this case are encourage to call the Pierce county Sheriff Office, case number 030060598.

2004 Water Year

Middle Fork Snoqualmie River near Tanner (12141300)

This gage is critical for the management of the water resource of the Snoqualmie-Snohomish River basin for King and Snohomish counties. The recent damage to the cable and cable car will require additional work and expenses to repair the damage and find alternative ways to conduct discharge measurements which provides accurate discharge data to the cooperator(s) and the public.

The station quit transmitting realtime data on April 7, 2004. An inspection discovered severed wires and equipment failures. Full operation restored April 9th.

Cable car discovered vandalized May 13, 2004, with many support members and equipment supports removed. Cost includes parts and 2 people-days of time.

Subsequent damage to the cable and car was discovered August 10, 2004 with additional parts removed and the main cable damaged from gunshots severing or damaging several strands.

King County Sheriff has been contacted to document recuring damage. Repair will likely require replacement of the main cable.

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