Media Advisory: Buffalo Geologist to Install New Stream Gauges in Project to Monitor Local Streams Through Crowdsourcing

Release Date: August 9, 2011 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As part of an effort to encourage the public to help monitor water levels of local streams, University at Buffalo geologist Chris Lowry will be installing nine new stream gauges on waterways in Western New York.

Set-up is scheduled to begin the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 8 a.m. and continue through 5 p.m. that afternoon at possible locations on Cattaraugus Creek, Wiscoy Creek, Elton Creek, Clear Creek and Hosmer Brook. A map of proposed sites is available online:

Lowry's project, called "CrowdHydrology," is an example of crowdsourcing, which harnesses the collective efforts of many different people to complete a task.

He is asking members of the public to help him track water levels of local streams by sending him readings from his network of gauges. Each gauge consists of a giant measuring staff that will be hammered into the ground, along with instructions explaining how passersby can participate in CrowdHydrology by texting Lowry the water level and stream location at each site.

Media interested in joining Lowry as he travels to designated waterways and installs the stream gauges can make arrangements by contacting Charlotte Hsu in the UB Office of University Communications at or 510-388-1831.

The project launched this May with a pilot site at the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center, a Buffalo Audubon Society nature preserve in Wyoming County, N.Y. Reported data is posted online at the CrowdHydrology website at, which Lowry updates regularly.

"I've been pleasantly surprised by the results so far," said Lowry, who got the idea for CrowdHydrology from an article he read about a California researcher who was tracking wildlife corridors by asking people to send information about roadkill on roadways. "At Beaver Meadow, I've gotten 25 different people texting me, and I get readings just about every day. The consistency of the data is also good."

Besides benefiting sportsmen such as local fishermen, monitoring stream levels will provide useful data to scientists -- including Lowry's graduate students -- whose research requires taking samples or conducting experiments on local creeks when the water is at a certain height. Participating in CrowdHydrology could also be a fun way for K-12 students to learn about local streams and creeks and how waterways respond to rain and dry spells, Lowry said.

More about CrowdHydrology:

Media Contact Information

Charlotte Hsu is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email or visit our list of current university media contacts.