New Local Provider of Cutthroat Flumes…And A Puppy

A good friend of mine, also a water measurement expert, does professional work with sheet metal, and he has come up with accurate, slightly lower cost cutthroat flumes for lower flows!netti_and_duck

Okay, this may not be the most exciting of subjects, so I am including a photo of our new Springer Spaniel puppy Netti.  She is 9 weeks old, 10 lbs., and is training very fast.  She’ll keep the raccoons out of the landscaping and garden, and might hunt too.  She is a natural at fetching tennis balls!

Back to flumes – posts here covered the EZ-Ramp flumes (3.5, 7,0, 10, and 20 cfs) several times, so what is different about the cutthroats?  The name comes not from cutthroat trout, which I loved to catch in Wyoming when I was a kid.  Instead, it is because the throat section is cut out of what would otherwise be a Parshall flume, while still having high accuracy.  These particular cutthroats are for LOW flcutthroat_1-editedows, say 0.05 to 1.0 cfs with high accuracy AND still reading flow directly in cfs.
The manufacturer is working to include higher flow ranges (3 cfs and more) with very stiff but still relatively low-weight construction.

The neat thing is, the costs are a little less than the EZ-Ramp flumes, comparing the same sizes.  They are shipped fully built, but the manufacturer’s location is much closer than the bigger companies cutthroat_4in Idaho and Utah, so shipping is less, too.  Who doesn’t want to save some money?

My friend is working on a couple of other types of flumes, too, including a Montana Cutthroat.  Each flume has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the flow range, site, soils, geology, sediment transport, and application.  What are the advantages of each type of measurement device?  We have discussed weirs, flumes, and orifices in posts here, and later we’ll discuss differences in flumes.  In the meantime, a website with some very good information on flumes and other measurement devices is http://openchannelflow.com/

This is a shorter post, after two of the last three being long posts.  I wish you success at flow measurement, understanding and protecting your water right, and (never joyful) regulatory compliance.  Have a good night!

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Device Installation Time! Plan Now For Success in 2017

As irrigation season moves into harvest, diversions are now reduced or shut off.  You have a drying ditch now or you will by the end of October, and then most of November and part of December that should be dry enough for quick field work.  This is the time to install in-ditch or in-pipe devices needed next year – for many diverters, starting January 1.  Here is the Water Board‘s table, with equivalent water right columns added.  How those equivalent water rights were calculated is explained in a previous post: How Do I Comply With Water Board Regulations? Part 2

SWRCB Measurement and Recording Requirements for 2017 (diverters exempted where Watermaster reports)
SWRCB Measurement and Recording Requirements for 2017 (diverters exempted where Watermaster reports)

Past posts in this blog have discussed several types of open-ditch measurement devices that are easy to install, inexpensive compared to formed-and-poured concrete structures, and readily available.  These includes weirs, flumes, and orifices.Sticking_Weir_sharpened

As covered before, installing Briggs prefabricated concrete weirs needs a
backhoe or excavator, but site preparation in a ditch is simple and takes only 2-3 hours if access to the site exists.  These are shipped from Willows, and when several of your neighbors are ready, or if you have several diversions, then trucking can be arranged to keep delivery cost down.

EZ-Ramp Flumes from Intermountain Environmental in Colorado come disassembled, with all connectors, and weigh Nuway_Flume_Running_Full - Edited62 lbs up to 400 lbs for flumes ranging in size from 3.5 to 20 (!) cfs.  They are inexpensive and while the larger sizes will probably require a backhoe for site preparation and backfill, the smaller sizes can be installed by hand in a narrow part of the ditch.

The previous post covered water level loggers, which you need to automatically record data at your measurement device.  Whether you go with Frank Crowe’s neat $700 option for the Vegetronix and AquaPlumb, or the ready-to-go, set it and forget it PMC Versaline at $1,700 installed, you will be compliant with the Water Board‘s regulations.

That’s it for tonight!  Have a great rest of the week and weekend.

How Do You Record Diversions? Water Level Loggers, Value Vs. Costs

Recording is the other half of measuring diversions from streams, under California’s new water diversion measurement and reporting regulations.  Diverters are required by law to measure flows at frequencies based on the volume of water diverted in a year.  The flow has to be measured and recorded.  Of course diverters don’t care about the data – it costs money and it doesn’t add income.  What you and I want in all of our purchases is the best value for the money.

This is a long post since it is hard to summarize something this technical so here is the bottom line:  my recommendation is the last of four in this post – for most diverters.  Click here for the simple, short post on my top recommendation.swrcb_flow_meas_frequency-edited

For very small diversions, flows have to be recorded weekly.  That is easy to do as long as someone goes to the diversion at least once a week.

WaterLevelLogger_wl300_1
Photo credit: globalw.com

Shawn_Sticking_WeirFor medium-sized diversions, flows must be recorded daily.  This is possible, but
it doesn’t allow for the owner or employees to have time off, travel, and so on.  At this level of recording, an automatic recorder of some type is necessary.  Large diversions must be recorded hourly, and automatic recording is the only practical way to be sure flows are recorded.  That is the subject of today’s post: automatic recording of flows, or what is really done most of the time, recording water levels and using equations to calculate the flow.

About_1.4_cfs_over_weir_edited_smallWe will leave aside the discussion of propeller, acoustic Doppler, magnetic, and other in-line meters.  If you have a diversion that goes through a long length of straight pipe, one of these devices can be bolted in or strapped on.  This post is about open diversions into a ditch, where an instantaneous measurement device (weir, orifice, flume) already exists.  These open devices do not measure flow directly, they measure the water level.  An equation is used to convert that level to a flow.

There are hundreds of devices (ready to go) and components (connected parts) to measure water levels.  There are also hundreds of loggers that collect data.  Here, we will look at 4 water level sensors connected to data loggers, called water level loggers.

The first is a setup that rancher and retiraqua-plumbed aircraft engineer Frank Crowe has been working on.  Frank’s desire is to save him and his neighbors money, so he has been working with the Vegetronix Aqua-Plumb Water Level Sensor connected with the Logger-8-USB.  Together these are $340, which is
the least cost of anything that I have seen.  Add shipping, tax, logger-8-usb
and $60 in other parts and batteries, and for $450 you’ll have the parts you n
eed for moderately durable, reliable, and accurate water level logger.  Not only that, but 
the Logger-8-USB has 8 channels altogether, so a diverter could measure up to 8 water levels at once by adding 7 more sensors at $95 apiece, not including tax and shipping.

Here is Frank’s latest setup with his comments:  “Finally was able to put together a prototype package for the vegetronix_frank_1_p1300077vegetronix_frank_2_p1300078Vegetronix sensor.  The box is a little bigger than needed, but seems to work.  I’m trying to get the data to download into something I can analyze, but it seems to work very stable.

The pipe is 3/4″ mounted to the box, with the sensor wire going down to about an inch from the bottom and then returns up over 12″, therefore doubling the sensitivity.  The end is held by some wire at the moment, but would probably work better with a stainless steel spring.  The top of the pipe is not sealed, but should be to keep the humidity out of the box.  Of course if the data logger were in a separate box, the seal would not be necessary.

To exercise the thing, it is stuck into a 3″ pipe with a water drip going in and a drain at the bottom.  The overflow hole is 13″ above the bottom.”

So, what is the trade-off?  If you are handy, somewhat experienced with electronic components, and willing to spend some hours, you can set this up yourself.  Frank can help a few of his neighbors, but he has his family and ranch requiring his time, too.  Otherwise, it is going to cost a couple hundred dollars or so for someone to set this up for you.  It needs to be checked, maintained, and adjusted more often than the integrated water level loggers, too, so the maintenance and downloading cost can be $50 to $100 per year if everything is working well.

Next, the Onset Hobo U20L-04 Water Level Logger is $300 before shipping and tax.  The DWR Groundwater folks I worked with for years, use these in groundwater wells.  They are easy to set up – program one and place it in a stilling well.  Take it out once or twice a year to dowonset_hobo_u20l-04-editednload the data.  The battery life is 5 years, maybe more.

Why aren’t these automatically the cheapest option?  They may be the cheapest if a diverter has 3 diversions or more, or several neighbors are using the same Hobo U20L-04.  However, they are not vented, meaning that as atmospheric pressure changes due to low pressure areas and storms, the device’s pressure reading will not be as accurate.  Therefore  Onset recommends having a second U20L-04 set up outside the water to measure the pressure change over time.  The second device can be some miles away, so one outside calibration device could be used for several in the water within a 100-square-mile area.

What I heard from colleagues is that these did not last for 10 years, and often not for five years.  Durability and reliability of a device are important for uninterrupted data, and therefore compliance with the Water Board’s regulations.  The more often onset_u20l-xx_handhelda device has to be replaced, the more it costs over time.

In summary, the cost of Onset Hobo U20L-04 devices is $600 plus tax and shipping.  This cost may be reduced somewhat if the cost of a calibration device can be shared between several diverters, or several diversions.

The third device discussed here is the Global Water WL-16.  This is an integrated, vented device, designed to program and set in a pipe.  Watermasters have used these for years at various diversions.  They cost about $1,000, before tax and shipping.global_water_wl16-edited

The WL-16 has a stainless steel casing and is fairly tough.  They should last a good 5 years.  The problem is at the sensor end – it is relatively easy to clog up in warm-water conditions, with algae and/or silt.  In cool flowing water, it might operate for the whole irrigation season.  In warmer or still water, it will have to be checked and sprayed clean every 1 to 3 months.  Watermasters have put the sensor ends in distilled water in baby-bottle bags, and rubber-banded the tops of the bags closed to keep the sensors clean for the entire irrigation season.

One other concern which I have not discussed with the manufacturer – the manual for the WL-16globalwater_wl16_in_field was updated in 2009 and refers to Windows XP, not the current Windows 10.  I am sure that a newer manual is sent out with the device when it is purchased.  Overall, with some care to check the sensor end and clean it as necessary, this is a great drop-it-in-and-turn-it-on option.

The fourth and final water level logger discussed here is the PMC Versaline VL2111 – WLS-31 Water Level Datalogger.  This looks much like the WL-16, but instead of a silicon bladder at the end of sensor, it has a non-fouling ceramic sensor.  At $1,370 before tax and shipping, it has the highest purchase cost of the 4 listed in this post, but it is my recommendation for durability, reliability, and low maintenance.

pmc_vl2111-with-wls-31-datalogger

The Versaline is made for wastewater; in other words, for sewer lines.  The datalogger end is vented and it is not supposed to be submerged, same as the Vegetronix components and the WL-16.  However, it is made to put inside manholes where it is very warm and humid.  The PMC guys have maintained the sensor end in rough environments with the equipment lasting 8 to 12 years.  If the sensor gets completely covered with algae (or something worse), it still works.  It can be cleaned off with a toothbrush if it seems so clogged it might prevent water from getting to the ceramic end.  The data logger and sensor are fairly new but are improvements on the older, long-lived versions.

The VL2111 – WLS-31 is three times the cost of the least-expensive option.  However, it might be the least expensive in the long run…it sure is the most worry-free of all the options listed here!

Recommended Water Level Logger: PMC Versaline VL2111 – WLS-31

This post is about the PMC Versaline VL2111 – WLS-31 Water Level Datalogger.  This looks much like the Global Water WL-16, but instead of a silicon bladder at the end of sensor, it has a non-fouling ceramic sensor.  At $1,370 before tax and shipping, it has a higher purchase cost than some alternatives, but it is my recommendation for durability, reliability, and low maintenance.

pmc_vl2111-with-wls-31-datalogger

The Versaline is made for wastewater; in other words, for sewer lines.  The datalogger end is vented and it is not supposed to be submerged.  However, it is made to put inside manholes where it is very warm and humid.  The PMC guys have maintained the sensor end in rough environments with the equipment lasting 8 to 12 years.  If the sensor gets completely covered with algae (or something worse), it still works.  It can be cleaned off with a toothbrush if it seems so clogged it might prevent water from getting to the ceramic end.  The data logger and sensor are fairly new but are improvements on the older, long-lived versions.

The VL2111 – WLS-31 is three times the cost of the least-expensive option that I have seen so far.  However, it might be the least expensive in the long run…it sure is the most worry-free of all the options listed here!

Get Up-To-Date With The Water Board Regulations – Here’s How

Do you want to pay penalties and have to hassle with a state agency?  Of course not.  Would you like to be the hero where you live while protecting your property rights, including water rights?  Here is how to be a hero and succeed at dealing with State bureaucracy, by getting your 2015 (and any earlier) reports to the Water Board done and a copy put in your files.

I have had some calls and emails asking about where to find login information, what to do if the reporting system freezes up, and 5 or 6 other questions.  The information here will get you to the right place, or the right person at the Water Board so you can get HELP!

Note: even if your diversions were ZERO, the monthly flows of zero still have to be reported.  Whether zero or some higher value of monthly acre-feet, start at the Water Board’s Water Rights: Water Use Reports And Measurement web page:

01_swrcb_water_use_page_top

As covered before, this page has the presentations given at the Measurement Fair on August 22:

The biggest headache right now is for those who have not yet reported their 2015 (and possibly earlier) diversions.  This same web page has the list of “deficient reports”:

Here is what you’re looking for; how do you actually report your diversions online?  If you don’t have a letter from the Water Board, click on the  eWRIMS Online Reporting Webpage link and see how to get HELP.  Hint: if you are getting close to the deadline and you cannot reach anyone by phone, the guy to contact is Paul Wells at (916) 323-5195 or Paul.Wells@waterboard.ca.gov.  If you do have your letter from the Water Board in hand, click on the  Report Management System Webpage link under “Online Reporting”:

04_report_use

Here is the Report Management System webpage.  On the upper right is where you log in with your User ID and Password.  The instructions will step you through reporting your diversions.  Having trouble or getting stalled?  Contact Paul Wells (information above) or Kathy Mrowka, at (916) 341-5363 or Kathy.Mrowka@waterboards.ca.gov:

05_swrcb_rms_page

Do you need to look up a water right before you report, or for any other reason?  Go to the eWRIMS – Electronic Water Rights Information Management System page.  Usually you will click on the EWRIMS Database System link to search by Application ID, Primary Owner, and/or other information about a right.  If you have to start with a map, click on eWRIMS Web Mapping Application

06_swrcb_ewrims_main_page

Here is the top of the eWRIMS “Accept or Decline” page:

08_swrcb_ewrimtop_accept_page

…and here is the bottom – you need to click “ACCEPT” to continue:

09_swrcb_ewrims_bottom_accept_page

By clicking “ACCEPT”, you’ll go to a page where you again have a choice to go to the Database or to the Map search, as well as go to (so far sparsely populated) Progress Reports page.  Click Water Rights Records Search:

11_swrcb_water_rights_select_search_page

Once you hit “Accept”, you get the familiar Water Rights Records Search Page, where you can search for rights by Type, Status, County, etc., and most importantly, Application/Permit/License ID and Primary Owner:

10_swrcb_water_rights_database_page

Just as an example, I searched on an Application ID of 1100, and here is the results page.  Every ID with 1100 in it comes up.  What I want to draw your attention to is a pretty neat feature – in every row of results, there is an “Open In GIS” link.  That will take you right to the map of that right, so you can see where it is and what other rights are around it:

12_swrcb_1100_page

 

Back on the Water Rights: Water Use Reports and Measurement page, near the bottom of the page is information on measurement devices that are required starting in 2017, which has been covered in several other posts:

14_swrcb_measurement

Further down on the page are links for things covered in earlier blog posts: Measuring Devices, Measurement Methods, and the hottest subject of the last few months, Alternative Compliance:

15_measurement_devices_methods

At the very bottom of the page, you will also find information on how to make a Request For Additional Time:

13_swrcb_addl_time

Be the hero where you live, ranch, and farm!  That is what I do for a living: help you be the hero, and get rid of your headaches, upset, and trouble, to comply with State law, make sure you know your water riShawn_Profile_Barn_Light_Circleght,
and measure and report your diversions.  The phone call is free to discuss your needs,  
(530) 526-0134, and email is also free at RightsToWaterEng1@gmail.com.  California needs heroes like you to stay in business and succeed!

How easy are EZ-Ramp / Nuway flumes, vs. Briggs weirs?

Briggs Manufacturing weirs are a known quantity and work well.  As we have covered before, weirs are supposed to flow at or less than 1 cubic foot per second (cfs) for every 1 foot of width for the highest accuracy.  With adequate soil for backfill and some suppressed_weir_jackson_small6″ and larger rock for reinforcement, they might not require anything other than a backhoe, the box, and an expert installer to get a highly accurate weir box in place and working.  Weirs are nice, too, because they don’t need a stilling well – a data logger in the upstream pool will measure the “still” pool depth nicely, and if placed at the weir entrance or just upstream, will not measurably affect accuracy.

A direct-reading staff gage could be installed on a weir, reading directly in cfs, but the boards would always have to be exactly the same for it to work right.  In reality, weir boards are changed out for different flows, or a smaller weir is cut into a board (or sheet metal screwed to a board) to measure low flows.  Boards configured as an orifice are usually submerged, so depths are measured upstream and downstream of the boards anyway.  The point is that a calculation has to be done, or a table checked to get the flow for each measurement.

Also, weirs can be run at higher flows than 1 cfs / 1 ft. but the measured flow is less accurate.  The stability of the box and backfill becomes more of an issue, too, as it does with a steeper ditch and inadequate backfill soils.  The usual ways of increasing stability are pretty standard:

  • Compacted 3/4″ minus road base may be needed for a solid base and flow-proof backfill.
  • Wingwalls of sheet metal (or even plate steel) may be required upstream, and maybe also downstream.  See the weir above – even though in a flat ditch, it still needs upstream sheet metal wingwalls.
  • Rock reinforcement on the outside faces of the wingwalls is always a good idea.

I just made a proposal for a rancher, with options for EZ-Ramp (Nuway) Flumes as well as 4′ Briggs Twin-Track Weirs.  The truth is, though, while I have installed other pre-fab metal flumes, I have not used the EZ-Ramp flumes yet.  So, just how easy is EZ when it comes to actually installing and using these?

A couple of guys who have each installed more than a hundred EZ-Ramp flumes talked with me on the phone about their experience over the years.  One encased them in concrete, the other put them on concrete slabs anNuway_Flume_Running_Full - Editedd poured concrete wingwalls on the upstream side.  Both said their flumes have been used for years with few problems, and they are still being installed.

But, what about this photo from Intermountain Environmental showing only soil backfill?  This is probably a temporary installation – for 1 or 2 years.  To be permanent, it will need to be placed on and anchored to a concrete pad or railroad ties, as well as having extended sheet metal wingwalls, or bagged postcrete wingwalls.  Flumes could have poured concrete walls but when expense is a consideration, bagged concrete often does the job.

The big advantage is, if there are ditch locations that are fairly narrow, and don’t have large rocks, EZ-Ramp flumes can sometimes be installed by hand.  Especially the 3.5- and 7-cfs sized flumes come disassembled, are fairly lightweight, are 4′ long, and are a little less than 15″ (1.25′) high.  Widths are just over 1 and 2 feet, respectively.

Reading flows is easy – the staff gages are in cfs already, so they are direct reading.  Since the flow relationship changes a little at higher flows, Intermountain makes the staff gages non-linear so they show the correct flows up to the nominal flow.  For flumes up to 10 cfs, they are accurate down to 0.1 cfs; to be really accurate at the bottom would take a little contracted weir or a Cipoletti weir.

Which measurement device to use depends on what equipment is available, ditch conditions, soil types, and who will be operating the device.  Weirs and orifices are not hard to operate, once someone has a day or two of training, gives good attention to detail, and reviews the training periodically.  The EZ-Ramp flumes take NO training, since they have direct-reading staff gages.  However, metal flumes are not as tough as weir boxes, so installation takes more care, and exclusion fencing may be needed if cattle get in the ditch.

pmc_versaline_vl2111_and_wls-31_logger-editedNext time, we’ll go into some detail on data frank_vegetronix_test_bucketloggers, since many diverters will need them starting in 2017.  For now, have a great weekend!

Late 2015 Filers to Water Board Down to 2,000 from 3,000 Aug. 25

Please let your neighbors know if any of them are on the list!  The list of late 2015 diverters is shrinking, that’s good news; 20160908_swrcb_late_filers-edited fines are $500/day.  2,000 names are left, 2/3 of the original 3,000 listed.  The link to the current “deficiency list” is here, from the Water Board‘s water use webpage.