May 19, 2017 4:00 a.m.
A broad effort to encourage water safety has led to the placement of a water temperature gauge to monitor the conditions on the Umpqua River.
On Thursday officials with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the National Weather Service, the YMCA of Douglas County, the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe of Indians and management staff of several local media organizations gathered near the South Umpqua River at the Umpqua Basin Water Association offices to explain more about the project.
An ad hoc committee called the Respect the Water Safety Committee was formed about a year ago and has met monthly. Staff at the Roseburg YMCA contacted Spencer Higginson, hydrologist at the National Weather Service, asking whether water temperatures around Roseburg were available. They were not. Higginson asked colleagues at the US Geological Survey for assistance and they installed a water temperature sensor at the Umpqua Basin Water Association, on Garden Valley Road, next to the river. The cost for the sensor was shared by the U.S. Geological Survey and by the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe.
Starting soon some members of the local media, including the radio stations of Brooke Communications, The News Review and KPIC/KVAL TV will have messages regarding the Umpqua River’s water temperature. For radio, announcements emphasizing the importance of staying out of the cold water will be aired and the daily Umpqua river temperature will be displayed on www.541radio.com. The News Review and KPIC/KVAL will be putting out the information in similar fashion.
Spencer Higginson says the National Weather Service is charged with “the protection of life and property”. He says they accomplish that by forecasting the weather and river levels. Higginson says the agency has never dealt with the dangers of cold water. Higginson says the new temperature gauge means people can now make informed decisions as to whether or not they should be recreating in the water. He says the information has a great potential to save lives, which is the goal of the Respect the Water Committee.
More information on the project will be coming soon to www.541radio.com and to News Radio 1240 KQEN.