In Part 2, How Do I Comply With Water Board Regulations? Part 2, we considered the question: Who has to have a certified, accurate device by January 1, 2017? How often is it monitored? The answer is, those who divert 1,000 acre-feet (AF) per year or more, and it has to be monitored hourly. What size diversion is this, really? An irrigation diversion of 1,000 AF over 6 months, with flows starting at 100% of the water right, declining to 50% of the right by the end of the season (month 6) would calculate out to a water right of 3.68 cubic feet per second (cfs), or about 3.7 to 4.0 cfs (cfs). Depending on where you are, that irrigates somewhere between 80 and 400 acres of hay or pasture.
In this post, I’ll answer 2 questions:
- What if your water right is smaller than 3.7 cfs, diverting 100 AF to 1,000 AF per year?
- A BIG question right now: What is “alternative compliance”, and how might it be done to meet the Water Board’s regulations?
To answer the first question, the next category down is 100 AF to 1,000 AF per year. Using the example of a 6-month irrigation season, with a diversion that starts at 100% of the water right and gradually declines to 50%, the water right we’re talking about is about 0.37 to 3.7 cfs. This category does not have to comply as quickly – the deadline is July 1, 2017, or nearly a year from now. The measurement frequency is daily, which is possible to be done by a diligent person, if not not recorded automatically. For a sense of how much water this is, depending on where you are, what the soils are like, and how efficient the diversion is, the acreage of hay or pasture irrigated ranges from about 8 to 370 acres.
What kind of measurement devices would meet the regulations? The same types that we discussed in Part 2, but ranging down to smaller sizes:
- weirs as little as 0.5′ (0.5 feet, or 6″) wide, or wider with boards cut to make contracted weirs
- free-flowing orifices with holes down to 0.16 x 0.16′ (2″ x 2″) square and a piece of steel plate to adjust it smaller
- submerged orifices down to 0.25′ x 0.25′ (3″ x 3″) with an adjustment plate.
- small flumes and meters
The photos above show smaller-sized devices than the 4′ weirs shown in earlier posts.
The second, and these days much BIGGER question, what about alternative compliance? The Water Board requires submission of alternative compliance plans on a form that is not yet available. If it were my diversion, I would not worry about that; I would put together my plan and send it in. The old rule applies that if you are not sure who to send it to, send it to several managers and maybe a Deputy Director. Emailing documents is cheaper; most computers will let you print to PDFs that can be emailed. Your submittal probably will not be accepted this way but the point is, the Water Board cannot say that you have not attempted to comply. Not complying at all can be very expensive; “Do something wrong, instead of nothing at all.”
What has to be in your alternative compliance plan? From the Water Board’s ADOPTED TEXT OF EMERGENCY REGULATION, the text gives 12 parts that must be in the plan (below). The plan may be rejected – having a plan (instead of a standard, certified measurement device) is no guarantee that the Board will accept it. In summary, the plan must detail contacts for all people on a ditch, Assessor Parcel Numbers, the water right(s), priority(ies), use(s), diversion(s), ditch(es) and/or pipe(s), measurement frequency and methods, dates for milestones and completion, permits required, financing plan, and map(s) showing the plan area including all physical features and place of use…and all of this must be signed by all water right holders on the ditch (the emphasized text in the bullet points is mine):
“………… §935 Alternative Compliance for a Measuring Device or Measurement Method Requirement.
(a) Alternative Compliance – Generally. In circumstances where strict compliance with sections 933 or 934 of this title is not feasible, would be unreasonably expensive, would unreasonably affect public trust uses, or would result in the waste or unreasonable use of water, a diverter may submit an alternative compliance plan.
(b) Minimum Standards – an alternative compliance plan under subdivision (a) shall meet the following minimum standards:
(1) The plan shall include the following information:
(A) The name and contact information for all diverters covered by the plan;
(B) The name and contact information for the person designated to represent all diverters covered by the plan in matters before the board;
(C) Identification of each individual water right type and priority covered by the plan;
(D) A detailed description of the area served by the plan, including all points of diversion whether used or not used, all methods of diversion, any conveyance systems, all beneficial uses of water, and all acreage served;
(E) The assessor’s parcel numbers and ownership within the area covered by the plan;
(F) Identification of the proposed measurement frequency;
(G) Identification of the proposed measurement methodology;
(H) Topographic map(s) or aerial photograph(s) of the area covered by the plan that show the separate places of use authorized to be served by claimed water rights covered by the plan and showing the acreage served;
(I) An implementation schedule, including date-specific, objective milestones of plan implementation from date of filing through final implementation, including the estimated milestones for acquiring permits required for plan implementation and the estimated milestones for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, if required;
(J) Budget for implementation of the plan and the source(s) of financing for the plan;
(K) A list of any permits required for plan implementation, the agencies that will issue the permits, and expected dates for issuance;
(L) An affirmation, signed by all diverters covered by the plan, that the plan will be implemented in accordance with the schedule contained therein and that all claimed water rights covered by the plan will not be exercised outside the scope of the plan …………”