FAST-FLOW DATA EARNS VICE-PRESIDENTIAL AWARD FOR USGS
The dedicated response of employees of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), to the disastrous floods in western Oregon last February has earned them one of this year's "Hammer Awards," which is Vice President Al Gore's special recognition for contributions in support of the President's National Performance Review Principles. Those principles are: putting customers first, cutting red tape, empowering employees, and getting back to basics.
The award was presented in Oregon City, Ore., on September 26, by Patricia Beneke, the Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretary for Water & Science. Dennis Lynch, Oregon District Chief, accepted the award on behalf of the entire USGS.
The USGS employees were honored for their quick and efficient use of the World Wide Web for the dissemination of river level and stream flow information nationwide, and for electronic distribution of real-time stream flow information, which was used as the basis for dozens of decisions regarding the evacuation of people and property throughout Oregon and Washington in February 1996.
In presenting the award, Ms. Beneke said, "In the Willamette Valley alone, the outstanding partnership between the USGS and other federal and state agencies, and based on USGS data, saved an estimated $2.7 billion dollars of flood damage in February, as well as the lives of many Oregonians."
"The work done by the USGS to make stream flow information immediately available to citizens and public safety officials is an excellent example of how this science agency has become increasingly responsive to society's needs," she said.
The Hammer Award consists of a $6 hammer with red ribbon, symbolizing the Vice President's answer to the $600 hammer of yesterday's government, and certificates signed by Vice President Gore. The award recognizes new standards of excellence achieved by teams helping to reinvent government. More than 350 Hammer Awards have been presented to teams comprised of government and private employees and citizens, working to build a better government.
The USGS's reinvention efforts, reflecting feedback from their customers, have fundamentally changed the way real-time stream flow information is made available to the public, news media, private industry, and government officials. The tangible benefits to the customers and the government are that real-time stream flow data are readily available to individuals, emergency management officials, and government agencies for making timely decisions during floods.
Real-time data provided by the USGS is used by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bonneville Power Administration for the optimal management of dams and reservoirs during floods. Throughout the nation, the National Weather Service relies on USGS real-time stream flow data in order to forecast the timing and size of flood peaks and to alert emergency managers of possible hazards.
USGS river level and stream flow data are available for about 100 locations in Oregon and Washington, and new stations are being added as time and equipment become available. Just recently, water level information at the Morrison Street bridge in Portland was added to the list of available sites. In addition to its use during floods, this type of information is very popular for fishing, rafting, and other recreational purposes. Internet access to USGS data in Oregon is http://oregon.usgs.gov; access in Washington is http://wwwdwatcm.wr.usgs.gov.
The U.S. Geological Survey is the federal government's largest source of water and other natural resources science and information. It is dedicated to providing the nation with reliable, impartial information to describe and understand the Earth. This information is used to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters; to manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; enhance and protect the quality of life; and contribute to wise economic and physical development.