Faces of Yuba Water Hydrographers

Yuba Water Agency's hydrographers, Kaitlyn Chow and Charley Johnck, track the flows of the Yuba River, canals, precipitation and reservoirs. Their work reduces the risk of flooding for people and their property, ensures there is adequate water for fish and wildlife in the Yuba Watershed, and through water transfers, provides water for human consumption. Get to know the duo responsible for managing and collecting much of Yuba County's hydrologic data.

What do you do for Yuba Water Agency?

Kaitlyn: As a hydrographer, I measure water in a variety of places such as lakes, rivers, pipes, irrigation canals, snow, and even deep underground. The water data that I help provide contributes to Yuba Water Agency's goals in sustainability, environmental stewardship, water rights, recreation and future planning.

Photo: Kaitlyn Chow (left) and Charley Johnck (right) replace a flow gage in a diversion pond just off of the lower Yuba River.

What does your average day look like? What are some of your essential duties?

Charley: My main roles are to support our hydropower operations and agricultural water management by providing accurate, real-time water data to comply with the flow requirements of our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license, the Yuba Accord, flood management, hydroelectric power generation, water deliveries to the irrigation districts, and groundwater monitoring program.

Every morning I check reservoir, river, precipitation and canal data using various software and automated processes to see what impact the agency's operations and weather are having on the project and Yuba Watershed hydrology. If there are any issues with the data and automated processes, I'm responsible for fixing it ASAP.

How do your duties differ throughout the year?

Kaitlyn: My duties change every time the river changes. In the winter we look at snowpack and precipitation accumulations, annually conduct snow surveys, and try to keep our equipment from washing away with high flows. We also help Yuba Water Agency's ditch tenders monitor water deliveries during irrigation season.

What do you enjoy most about working for Yuba Water Agency?

Charley: The opportunity to work with exceptionally talented people in various trades and professions, and the ability to make an impact on managing the water resources of the Yuba Watershed.

Kaitlyn: Yuba Water Agency earns my award for wholeheartedly welcoming people to the team. We have a very professional team and everyone is always willing to lend a hand (and keep the humor in-stock).

Photo: Chow and Johnck use a permanent staircase on the bank of a diversion pond, near the Yuba River, to check on a flow gage.

Tell us something about yourself that most of us don't know.

Kaitlyn: Fishing with my family is one of the reasons I am interested in the outdoors and science. If it wasn't for the encouragement (read: requirement) of my parents to experience and learn from the outdoors, I'd probably be somewhere completely different.

Charley: I will be the father of a baby girl, who is due in March.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Charley: I like to mountain bike, hike, play guitar and banjo, and spend time with my family.

Kaitlyn: I work on the river, and in my free time I like to play on the river. On a typical weekend I'll be fishing, kayaking, hiking or backpacking. I also like cooking, eating and playing tabletop games.

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