Water Flow Terms
The Terms and Definitions below are courtesy of the USGS Water Science Glossary of Terms.
Discharge - the volume of water that passes a given location within a given period of time. Usually expressed in cubic feet per second or cfs.
Gage Height - the height of the water surface above the gage datum (zero point). Gage height is often used interchangeably with the more general term, stage, although gage height is more appropriate when used with a gage reading.
Cubic Feet Per Second (cfs) - a rate of the flow, in streams and rivers, for example. It is equal to a volume of water one foot high and one foot wide flowing a distance of one foot in one second. One "cfs" is equal to 7.48 gallons of water flowing each second. For example, if your car's gas tank is 2 feet by 1 foot by 1 foot (2 cubic feet), then gas flowing at a rate of 1 cubic foot/second would fill the tank in two seconds.
Cubic Feet Per Second (cfs) Rates of Flow - 1 cubic foot per second or 1 cfs is a rate of water flow which will supply 1 cubic foot of water in one second. 1 cfs is = to 7.48 gallons per second, 448.8 gallons per minute, 646,272 gallons per day and 1.98 acre-feet per day.
Water Discharge cfs Sample Graph
This Schoharie Creek at Prattsvill, NY sample graph shows the discharge water level in cubic feet per second.
Water Gage Height Sample Graph
This Schoharie Creek at Prattsvill, NY sample graph shows the gage height water level in feet.