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Stream Sensor Slideshow

Until recently, the high cost of building infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance meant that gauges to measure river and stream levels in Iowa were relatively rare. One of the Iowa Flood Center’s priorities has been to develop an affordable monitoring system to provide up-to-the minute data on Iowa’s streams and rivers. IFC students helped develop an electronic sensor to measure stream levels and transmit data back to the center. The sensor is placed on bridges and uses sonar to measure the distance from the water’s surface to the sensor. The information is transmitted via cell phone to a central database, and provides a time-sensitive picture of current stream levels. Click any photo below for a gallery about the stream sensor project.

Sensor at Work

Passing drivers may not even notice the sensors.

A SUV parked on a bridge.

The Finishing Touch

Dan Ceynar installs a stream stage sensor.

View from the Bridge

Dan Ceynar has deployed hundreds of sensors across the state.

Dan Ceynar installs a stream stage sensor.


The sensors are usually attached to the downstream side of bridges.

Dan Ceynar installs a stream stage sensor.

Built in Iowa

The stream sensor team includes both students and IIHR researchers.

Researchers pose next to stream stage sensors.

Hands-on Experience

A researcher works on a stream stage sensor.

The IIHR Electronics Shop

IIHR students help assemble the sensors.

A researcher works on a stream stage sensor.

Testing and Calibration

Stream stage sensors laid out in a row.

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A stream stage sensor.

Relatively Inexpensive

A stream stage sensor.

Electronic Sensor Components

The Iowa Flood Center stream-stage sensors were designed and assembled in-house.

Materials used to make a stream stage sensor.


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Last modified on January 8th, 2016
Posted on February 9th, 2011

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