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Audit and Evaluation Annual Report 2009–2010

Annex 2 - Network Configuration Benchmarking

Annex 2 - Network Configuration Benchmarking

The hydrometric network in Canada was compared with networks in other countries, particularly those in the G8. Information on network configuration in other countries was obtained from Internet sources where available, reference material, and direct contact with agencies in other countries. Some countries include stations that have water level monitoring without flow measurements as part of their hydrometric network. These stations were excluded from the benchmarking comparison, as water level stations are less costly to operate than stream flow gauges. The gauging stations that are not currently active were not included in this assessment; only operating stream gauges were counted with the exception of Russia as described below.

The total number of active hydrometric stations in Canada under the National Hydrometric Program is 2931. These are stations that are maintained by the Water Survey of Canada or by contributors, and the data is published in HYDAT. Data collected by the Water Survey of Canada for some hydro utilities, such as BC Hydro, are included in the national database, while data collected by Ontario Hydro and Hydro Quebec are not in the national database.

England and Wales

The surface monitoring network in England and Wales includes 1396 flow gauges and 2040 water level gauges (Stewart 2008). The network expanded between 1995 and 2005 due to the need for flood warning.

Few stations in the United Kingdom are “natural,” i.e. unaffected by flow regulation and land use changes. Probably as a result of the extent of water use in the country and the lack of pristine areas, there is no specific strategy for monitoring climate change. A small number of stations (15) are designated as part of the Environmental Change Network.


Australia has about 2100 hydrometric stations, which are managed at the state level. This information is based on discussions with the hydrometric program staff in each state. Most of the state networks are expanding. A National Water Initiative Work Plan has been developed to improve the coordination of data collection and management. Apart from this initiative, there are no plans to specifically monitor for climate change. This is probably because water resources in Australia are heavily exploited and there are few natural areas where the effects of climate change could be monitored.

United States

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) maintains about 7000 active stream gauges (USGS 2005). To evaluate stream flow variability and change in a climatic context, the USGS identified more than 1600 stream gauges where the discharge was primarily influenced by climatic variations. These stations form the USGS Hydro-Climatic Data Network, monitoring watersheds where the data are appropriate to the study of federal interest problems and issues such as flood frequency, drought severity, and long-term climatic change (Slack and Landwehr 1992).

The USGS has developed a science strategy (USGS 2007) that addresses natural science research and applications. A key part of the plan is expanded and modernized USGS observing networks for land, water and biological resources, to enable rigorous analyses of future responses to climate change.


Information from the hydrometric network in Germany is available on the following websites:

List of federal gauges:
Map with gauges:
List of state gauges:

The number of hydrometric stations in Germany is 3000, an estimate provided by i. A. R. Fritsch of the German Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz (Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde (BfG)).


Information on the hydrometric network in Japan is available only in Japanese. The network is operated by the River Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism. Information on the network is available at

There are 5632 water level gauges in Japan, primarily reflecting the need for real-time flood forecasting on small streams. According to Atsushi Hattori, Head, River Division, River Department, NILIM, there were 1444 stream flow gauges in Japan in 2007.


Complete information on the current hydrometric network in Russia was not available. Information on the network in the former Soviet Union was found in Shahgedanova (2003) and Sokolov (1964). In 1960 the hydrometric network in the former Soviet Union consisted of 5866 sites.


According to Wittwer (2009), there are 1200 real time water level stations and 1500 hydrometric stations in France, as part of the flood forecasting system.

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