Do you always have to have a purchased flow meter and data recorder for a pipeline? No you don’t. If you pump your flow, you can probably use a certified pump efficiency curve and your online 15-minute or hourly power records.
Call a pump shop that will produce a certified pump efficiency curve for you. The curve itself will cost $300 to $700, and there may be up to $1,000 in setup work to install gage access ports or create acoustic meter mounting points. The resultant curve will have a certified accuracy, in the range of +/- 2-3%, plus an accuracy range for changing pumping levels or variable pump flow rates. The ratings will be +/- 10% or better, and so satisfy the Water Board regulations.
Graphics credit: West Virginia University
The person doing the work can provide you a spreadsheet so you can paste in your power records and get hourly flow rates. The certification will be good for at least a couple of years, and when it is redone for you, will cost in the $300 to $700 range.
These costs look pretty good compared to a meter that will cost $1,500 to $4,000, and has to be recalibrated and maintained every couple of years. Another big benefit is that the pump curve lets your pump shop know what to recommend for you to get the most efficiency, and spend less money for your power!
Will this method work for groundwater as well as surface water pumps? Yes it will. SGMA requirements include well metering for a whole bunch of pumps, so this can be of use to you no matter how you pump your water.
Do you have a riparian water right? If your property borders or crosses a natural stream, then you probably do. If you are unsure, then read the best explanation I have seen, in plain language, in this short document:
A property split, if it results in a subdivided parcel that no longer borders the stream.
A Superior Court Decree, while it does not take away riparian water rights, can restrict how much and when that riparian water right can be used during irrigation season.
A stream can move through the process of erosion, so that a property no longer touches a stream. How much movement is enough? “It depends.” If it is gradual, and the diversion remains active, then the riparian water right is probably still secure. If a stream suddenly moves, so that it cuts through the property on the other side, and now there is a piece of that property between your parcel and the stream, this avulsion could very well remove a riparian water right. The water right would only be definitely lost through some action of the Water Board, state Superior Court, or federal court.
A person or agency can take a piece of property along the stream. A person might try and succeed in getting part of your property through adverse possession. So, always pay your taxes, and notify anyone who leases or regularly accesses your property that you retain full ownership. An agency might take it to build a levee, or create a corridor of riparian habitat. In either case, your parcel would be severed from the stream.
Put it in your property deed. How should that be done?
The best way would be to get the help of an experienced water rights attorney who has written riparian water right provisions for property. There are very few of these attorneys and they can be hard to find.
Put in plain English what you want to do. What might you include?
State that the property has a riparian water right, name the stream, and describe the diversion point, place of use, and purpose of use. Include an Assessor Parcel Map of your parcel(s). If possible, include photographs.
State that this riparian water right is retained even if the stream moves, gradually or suddenly, away from your parcel.
State that it is your intent, and it will be the intent of you, your heirs, and any other purchaser, to retain the riparian water rights for any subdivided parcel, whether adjacent to the stream or now.
If you have a parcel that was severed in the past, but that parcel has used the
same diversion point continuously from the time before the subdivision, state in your deed that the intent at the time of the subdivision was to retain riparian water rights for your parcel, and that you have continued to divert under riparian right of claim, and that you do have a riparian water right.
What do you do if your water right has never been recorded with the State Water Resources Control Board? Or, if your property was split from a larger farm or ranch, and you are handling your smaller water right on your own? After all, every water right has to be filed with the Water Board, except most of those that are uniquely listed in Superior Court Decrees. This is true regardless of whether the water right is riparian or appropriative (pre- or post-1914).
You’ll need to file an Initial Statement. These are 4 pages unless cannabis is grown with the water right – that adds page 5. The forms are downloadable, fillable PDFs. If you have your information together and you are handy
with Google Earth, you might have your form done in a few hours. As with any property description, the better it can be explained, the easier it is to defend your water right if someone has a complaint.
With the Water Board, it’s better if you file before the Water Board comes looking for you. I have not seen folks get fines for filing even when water rights have been used for 50 years, or 100, or even since 1850 (or earlier). The Water Board folks are good to work with and they would much rather that people become compliant with the law, than write nasty letters and issue fines. That may not always be true as regulations get tougher, so get your filing done soon!
How is an Initial Statement different from filing aWater Right Application? An Initial Statement is filed if the water right is already in use. The Water Board is careful to point out that an Initial Statement is not the basis of, nor is it proof for a water right. It is just the way to report if diversion or storage has taken place for some time.
What if your storage or diversion began after 1914, since that is when the Water Board was created and when its authority began? Except for riparian rights, this is a gray area. I think the official answer from most folks at the Water Board is that appropriative water rights after 1914 are only established by a water right application, obtaining a Permit, and hopefully perfecting that Permit into a License.
In reality, there have been many Initial Statements filed for post-1914 water rights. It seems that these stand if there isn’t already a complaint against the filer, and if the water right is not in an already over-appropriated stream where there are obviously more water rights than water. The presence of chinook salmon or steelhead trout might put a post-1914 Initial Statement in question, too.
The problem with filing a Water Right Application is that you have no idea what the outcome may be. It might be denied, or have restrictive conditions imposed, and you won’t know until you have spent some thousands of dollars. Even if your water right is senior to some rights that were filed decades ago, the outcome is unknown. Also, the Water Board folks are extremely busy, and some applications are never completed.
Have you filed your Report Of Licensee, Progress Report of Permittee, or Report of Stockpond on theWater Board’s web site? 43% of folks have not, according to an email from the Water Board a few minutes ago:
“ANNUAL WATER USE REPORTING FOR 2018
This is a reminder notification for permits, licenses and registrations to file your 2018 Annual Water Diversion report which was due on April 1, 2019. To date, only 57% of appropriative rights have filed on time. …”
What to do? File right away! Call me at (530) 526-0134 (calls are free).
Remember the adage of “Do something wrong instead of nothing right“? It really applies here – folks who get their reports in this week are highly unlikely to see any fines. You can amend your report any time…people are still amending some 2008 reports (11 years later)!
Filing in May, maybe yes, maybe no fines. By July 1, if not a little sooner, the Water Board will have a list of everyone who is going to get fined no matter what, and it’s just a matter of fighting it or paying the lower settlement amount.
Is it not having your storage or flow data ready to file your worry? There are a lot of engineering companies, including mine, that can help you get that done quickly. Processing data can be a big pain, as it was for me over the last few weeks with 50 reports to file. So talk to someone who does it all the time and stop your headaches, get some peace of mind.
Whatever you do, file something now! Fix it later, get help with amendments, call an engineer for help with the data. Incomplete action now is a lot less expensive than $500/day, $15,000/month.
You need to catch up before the Water Board contacts you. By that time, you’re probably getting or about to get a CDO with 30 days to comply and report.
If you’re already being contacted, if you received a CDO, if the Water Board is issuing you an Administrative Civil Liability (ACL), if you’re headed to an ACL hearing, then you still need to comply as quickly as possible. Your hassles and fines will not increased, or they may be significantly reduced, and you may still be able to stop the process before you get fined.
I don’t know what may happen in, say, 2020, for folks who have no data for 2018. The same logic applies: get a data logger in and collecting data as soon as possible, and there might be no hassles even for missing data.
Start with a Request For Additional Time. This is quick to fill out and buys you some instant grace. Also, if you had extenuating circumstances like the Carr, Camp, or Mendocino Complex Fires, or other disasters, send an email to Jeff Yeazell, the Water Board’s Public Contact official outside of the Delta. Jeff is very nice, and he is careful to respond back and to keep the emails he gets.
Are you hiding from the Water Board because your ditch or piped diversion does
not yet have a measurement device? Give me a call at (530) 526-0134 – you might find some workable answers in a 15-minute conversation that costs nothing. You want to get on with the important things in your life and business, and my mission is to help you by solving diverters’ headaches to provide peace of mind, and help stay out of trouble.
The installation deadlines were January 1, 2017 through January 1, 2018. Maybe you don’t want any more government oversight because you put up with a lot already. You could be losing sleep over the potential large fines. Or, what if you do install a device, and you worry that you will be in trouble and have to pay fines as soon as you report your new compliance with SB 88? You might not know what needs to be done, and you’re worried it will cost you $15,000, or $20,000, or more.
You might be thinking that the Water Board is plenty busy, and you’re right. The folks there are going through thousands of online forms for Measurement Methods, Alternative Compliance Plans, Reports Of Licensee and Supplemental Statements that have new measurement device information in the blanks, and Requests For Additional Time. My guess is that it could take as long as 5 years before the enforcement staff get out to the most far-flung corners of the State…but it could be as soon as a year, depending on how the to-do pile is sorted.
Sure, some measurement devices have to be big to handle large diversions. A direction of 20 cubic feet per second (9,000 gallons per minute) or more may require something like the first two flumes shown below. The Parshall Flume shown below may be a $20,000 installation, but the Watchman Flume might only be an $8,000 installation.
As the diversion size decreases, the size and cost of the measurement device go down, too. There may be a relatively temporary solution, like the pipe and board weir that costs only $1,000 or so including the water level logger if you do it yourself. A larger, more permanent measurement device can be installed later.
If you have a pipeline as part of your diversion, then an in-line meter with an integrated data collector can be installed. The data files from these units are
easily readable in Excel, and the files can be sent directly to the Water Board to meet the requirements of SB 88.
What if you don’t have a pipeline? Then your flow needs to be measured in the open ditch with a weir, flume, or orifice. These devices measure the flow but they don’t record the data. To continuously record data, a submersible logging instrument must be used to measure the water pressure at the bottom of the box. These logging instruments are commonly put into stilling wells that are inside or outside the measurement device.
How are water pressure logger measurements converted to diverted flows or reservoir storage? Why does anyone even have to have an electronic pressure logger? Onset Computer, PMC, In-Situ, , and other manufacturers sell data loggers and water level loggers, not pressure loggers, so why is this post talking about measuring pressures at all?
Loggers record pressure, because that is the easiest physical attribute to measure. A data logger in water does not know how deep it is, and it does not
know how much flow is going by, or how much water is being stored in a reservoir. Pressures relate directly to static (standing) water depths, and then equations convert the depths to flows, or to reservoir storage volumes.
How is pressure converted to depth? It’s an easy calculation – water that is one foot deep has a pressure of 0.4335 psi at the bottom. So, if your logger measures 1.60 psi, then the calculation to get depth is 1.60 psi / 0.4335 psi per foot = 3.69 feet of depth.
Note that water level loggers can be of two types. The least expensive are completely submersible, and do not compensate for barometric pressure. For an idea of the readings of barometric pressure in a measurement device, a 2 foot deep logger records a pressure of 0.8670 psi. Atmospheric pressure at sea level is about 14.7 psi, and high in the mountains may be 12.0 psi. Air pressure is much greater than those measured in ditches. Usually two of these loggers are used at once, one in the water, and one out of the water measuring only air pressure. This also eliminates the variability in pressure due to weather changes.
The second type of data logger compensates for barometric pressure at the same time water pressure is being recorded. That way, the water and air pressure data sets do not have to be combined before conversion to depths. These loggers were always more expensive until the Bluetooth Hobo water level logger came along; as of February 2019 I found that it is the least expensive option for a single location.
Now that you can calculate any depth, how do you convert depths to reservoir storage? That requires an Area-Capacity curve, also known as an Elevation-Storage curve. The points can be picked off the curve. For example, in the curve below, a depth of 8.5 feet would correspond to an elevation of 2,802.5 feet, and a reservoir storage volume of 30 acre-feet.
An owner of a reservoir with a capacity over 10 acre-feet must collect monthly storage values. That’s easily done by hand. However, a reservoir with a capacity of 50 AF requires weekly measurement; over 200 AF requires daily measurement; and over 1,000 AF requires hourly measurement. That is really tedious to do by hand.
This is where an Excel spreadsheet can make the task a whole lot easier! The spreadsheets shown below are just for this. The first sheet helps translate a graph into a table of elevations and storage volumes. The second sheet translates collected pressure values into depth and storage values, for as many data points as needed.
For diversion ditches from a stream, how are pressures converted to flows? The logger is in a stilling well, usually a pipe connected to the inside or outside wall of the weir, flume, or orifice. It measures pressure, which is easily converted to depths.
As with reservoirs, Excel spreadsheets make the conversion process a whole lot easier. The sheets below have the rating curve for a suppressed weir, and the second sheet converts pressure to actual water depths over the weir boards. Even for thousands of hourly readings, the hourly flow volumes are quickly calculated and are ready to send to the Water Board: