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Posted 7/5/2016

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By Kailyn Townsend
Intern, Memphis District Public Affairs Office

The Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch is currently working on a project to construct a new Mississippi River gage site at Mhoon Landing, Miss. The new gage will replace an older gage that operated at Tunica, Miss. The process of building a new gage, from initial planning to implementation of data, typically takes between two and three weeks. The Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch expects to finish with construction and begin recording data within a week.

The gages put in place by the Memphis District provide information about the Mississippi river stages, which the Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch uses to predict future water levels and track changes across months, years, and decades. By analyzing data comparatively across sites, the department makes certain that the Memphis District can continue to provide reliable information and predictions to ensure citizens’ safety.

The old site, located at the Riverpark Museum in Tunica, is the home of a gage that is still operational; however, its location prevents the gage from retrieving data accurately. When the Riverpark Museum was built, a portion of the riverbank nearby was carved out to build a boat ramp, changing the flow of the river. When the gage was placed here, it appeared as though it was far enough from the riverbank to ensure for reliable readings. However, due to the change in flow of the river, sediment buildup began to cover the gage probes. This rendered the gage incapable of providing accurate data consistently, as the equipment must be immersed in water in order to read water pressure.

The Hydraulics & Hydrology Branch has begun working to install a new gage in Mhoon Landing, at an old granary approximately 17 miles south of the old site.

“We’re moving there because it’s in a deeper part of the river and will be more reliable,” Ed Dean, chief of water control said.
While the old gage can be easily reached by walking right up to a bridge over the boat ramp, the new gage is certainly further out. The path to reach the new Mhoon Landing gage requires a walk through a nearly quarter-mile long structure.

On Wednesday, June 15, engineers worked to put the gage together. Cody Till prepared solar panels, which will power the Data Collection Platform (DCP), the box that contains a receiver with a satellite transmitter that records data. At the bottom of the structure closer to the water, Hafford Barton and George Baddour worked together to put pipes in place that will run a cable from the underwater gage to the DCP. This cable connects the pressure transducer, which calibrates water pressure, to the data-receiving DCP.

The Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch will collect data from the old and new gages, until a relationship between the data collected can be determined. Data will also be available from an older site at Mhoon Landing whose use was previously discontinued. Once the Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch compares the data provided by the old and new gages, the relationship between each gage site will be better understood, allowing for more extensive and accurate data.