Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 17, 2013

Fate of USGS gauge in doubt

Casselman River device to be shut down on Sept. 30

GRANTSVILLE — Unless adequate funding is obtained, a U.S. Geological Survey water gauge on the Casselman River near Grantsville — that has been recording flows for 65 years — will be shut down Sept. 30.

The annual cost to operate the gauge is $14,350.

“USGS was able to pay for the operation during the past year,” said Jon Dillow at the agency’s Water Science Center in Baltimore.

“I have also been able to set aside $5,559 to operate the gauge through September,” he said.

After Sept. 30, another $8,395 will be needed for continued operation. Dillow indicated he is optimistic that other agencies will come up with those funds.

Don Cosden of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Service said his agency has provided funding in the past.

“We are working to find another funding source before they take it off line,” Cosden wrote in an email.

“This is an important source of information for trout fishermen because many travel from the central part of the state to fish the Casselman. It would be a shame to drive three hours only to find the river high and muddy,” Cosden wrote. “I’m sure locals rely on it, too.”

The gauge is slightly less than a mile north, or downstream, of U.S. Route 40 along a popular trout fishing stretch of the Casselman.

“Absolutely. I check the flow (online) on a regular basis before I fish,” said John Kirby, Frostburg, an avid fly fisherman. “And I fish the Casselman often.”

Wednesday morning, the gauge was showing a flow of 30 cubic feet per second.

“I think the river is best for fishing when it runs 50 to 75 cfs,” Kirby said. “Once it hits 100, it becomes difficult.”

Kirby, Frostburg’s city administrator, said he actually goes online to check the flows of his favorite rivers as a way to relax during a hectic professional day.

“I check the Casselman and the gauge at Franklin (W.Va., South Branch of the Potomac) the most often. It brings me a sense of calm. I guess, in a way, it puts me on the river for a moment or two. It helps me to regroup.”

Although Tuesday’s flow was relatively small, in October 1954, following Hurricane Hazel, the station measured a discharge of 8,400 cfs from the drainage area of 62 square miles.

There is one other gauge on the Casselman, according to the USGS website (, near Markleton, Pa. The Casselman, 56 miles in length, flows into the Youghiogheny River and is in the Mississippi River drainage.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at


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