Professor Paddle: River Level Text Service
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JeffR
Rock Bumper
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Joined: 20 Apr 2009
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  Quote JeffR Replybullet Topic: River Level Text Service
    Posted: 20 Jun 2011 at 8:55am
I recently expanded the River Level Text Service to cover the entire United States and a few rivers in BC. You can now get real-time streamflow information for over 10,000 gauges by simply sending a text message from your phone. Gauge sources include the USGS, USBR, WA Dept. of Ecology, Dreamflows, CO Division of Water Resources, Environment Canada, and many others.

How to use it: The number is 41411. Text the word "Level" followed by the name of the river. Here are some examples: Level Skykomish, Level Robe, Level MF Nook, Level LW

How it works: As soon as the River Level Text Service receives your text, it contacts the gauge source to get the most recent level, converts it to a text message, and sends the info back to you. Depending on the gauge source and network traffic, this can take between 10 seconds and 2 minutes.

What you get back: Here's an example response for "Level Robe":
6.19 ft at 9:15 PM on 6/18
rising 0.08 ft/hr
SF STILLAGUAMISH RIVER NEAR GRANITE FALLS, WA
Reply F to set as a Favorite.


You can try it out here: http://www.riverlevels.us

It knows lots of shortcuts: I designed the service to save on thumbtyping. So you don't need to type "North Fork Nooksack", just type "NF Nook". It also knows lots of paddler nicknames, so you can type "Level Ernies" and "Level FITW". If you have The River Gypsies Guide to North America, you can send any reach number. For example type "Level 41" for the Ohanapecosh (Cowlitz at Packwood). More shortcut examples are available on the FAQ page here: http://www.riverlevels.us/FAQ.aspx

You can save your favorites:
More thumbtyping savings. You can reply "F" to any level to save that gauge as a favorite. You can save up to 3 favorites. Then text "Level Favs" to get levels for all 3 of your favorite rivers back at once.


What if there are multiple gauges on a river: The River Level Text Service tries to give you the info for most common whitewater section. So for example, "Level Green" returns the Green River below Howard Hanson Dam. But for rivers where multiple gauges are commonly used, the service returns a multiple choice list. For example, "Level Wenatchee" returns a multiple choice list that includes Plain, Peshastin, and Monitor.

What if I want a different gauge on the same river: If the river name doesn't return the gauge you want, try sending the full name of the river. For example, "Level Green" returns the Green River below Howard Hanson Dam because this is the most common whitewater section. But if you want a different gauge on the Green, send "Level Green River". This will return a multiple choice list of all gauges on all Green Rivers in the US. If you want to narrow this down a bit, you can send "Level Green River WA". And if you know the specific gauge you want, you can send "Level Green Auburn" for example.


What does it cost: The service is FREE. But depending on your cell plan, you may have to pay to send and receive text messages. Also, my service provider puts ads at the end of the messages.

Find a problem or have a suggestion? Let me know! I'm adding features, gauge sources, and paddler nicknames all the time, so let me know if you find anything that needs improving. The best way is to email: support at riverlevels dot us.
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jondufay
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Joined: 07 Apr 2005
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  Quote jondufay Replybullet Posted: 20 Jun 2011 at 9:39am
Jeffro...you da man!
ahh, f--- it dude, lets go boating...
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fiddleyak
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  Quote fiddleyak Replybullet Posted: 20 Jun 2011 at 10:59am
Who needs a smartphone when you can textcheck levels?
It's pretty sweet how you can get BC flows, way more convenient then all the clicking required on a computer.
Thanks a lot for doing this Jeff, it's an awesome resource for the paddling community.
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James
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 20 Jun 2011 at 11:30am
Whoa!!! Jeff how did you get past the Env. Canada waiver form?
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Blair
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  Quote Blair Replybullet Posted: 20 Jun 2011 at 2:58pm
Pretty Sweet. I tried it out and took a screen shot of the Skykomish for an example of what it looks like. 8,400cfs was accurate with the PP gauge. For the Wenatchee, it texted me back and asked which gauge I wanted and asked me to reply with a 1, 2, or 3. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

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JeffR
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  Quote JeffR Replybullet Posted: 21 Jun 2011 at 8:12am
(technical details) James - for the Environment Canada data, I make 2 requests. The first one requests the data (using GET) and gets the authorization cookie. The second one sends the authorization cookie back (using POST) and receives the data back. So basically, the service accepts the disclaimer each time someone requests an Environment Canada gauge. I've only got a few gauges in BC turned on right now, but this method works for all Environment Canada gauges across the country. If you want more specific coding details, just let me know.
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huckin harms
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  Quote huckin harms Replybullet Posted: 21 Jun 2011 at 8:30am
great work... thanks for the service, i've been using it more and more.  and now BC- excellent!
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huckin harms
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  Quote huckin harms Replybullet Posted: 21 Jun 2011 at 8:31am
Is little white a realtime reading or just a guestimate on the flow?
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CRG Productions
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  Quote CRG Productions Replybullet Posted: 21 Jun 2011 at 5:48pm
The Little White reading is a real time visual reading taken from the put-in for the lower section (not the Master Blaster gauge). It's not updated everyday, but usually a few times a week.
www.gorgehits.com
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