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Funding for river gauges is available

June 18, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

Money to operate three Potomac River gauges that measure water levels that could affect Washington County will is available into 2006, despite reports last week that the required $37,000 wasn't included in the Federal 2005 budget, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's office said.

The gauges, located in Hancock, Cumberland, Md., and Paw Paw, W.Va., are funded through the Army Corps of Engineers budget and are managed by the U.S. Geological Survey. The measurements they provide are used to help predict flooding.

Bartlett spokeswoman Lisa Wright said Bartlett met Thursday with Col. Robert Davis, commander of the Baltimore District of the Army Corps of Engineers, who assured him the corps was committed to running the gauges into 2006.

Wright said confusion about whether the money was included in the fiscal 2005 budget, effective Oct. 1, resulted from the fact that it wasn't set off as a specific line item in the budget. "But the commitment for that funding is there," she said.

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Because there was no specific line item, she said, it was "a legitimate presumption" that the money wasn't included.

Local officials feared the loss of the gauges would prevent local governments from preparing for possible floods. Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner said last week he had contacted Bartlett's office about the situation.

"I am very pleased that by working together we were able to clear up some confusion surrounding the continued operation of these Potomac River gauges," Bartlett said in a statement.

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