Five Times More Water Rights Than Average Runoff In California! But, So What? Who Cares?

L.A. Times – Rights to California surface water far greater than average runoff ………. California WaterBlog – California water rights: You can’t manage what you don’t measure ………. SacBee – California allocates vastly more water than supplies allow, study shows

You have read the articles – California’s water rights are WAY more than the average annual runoff!  The system is broken!  Agriculture is to blame – gosh, those capitalist farmers and ranchers are using precious water to make…Food!  Wood!  Paper!  Clothing!  Flowers!  A living, even Profits!  It’s obvious that I am using sarcasm; larger corporate farms notwithstanding, it’s not a big income-earning concern.  More people are leaving farms and ranches for easier work schedules and stable incomes, than are getting into farming.

From the L.A. Times – In California, rights to water exceed the supply :

“On some major river systems, especially in the parched San Joaquin Valley, the over-allocation is jaw-opening. On the San Joaquin River itself, people have rights to nearly nine times more water than flows down from the Sierra. On the Kern, it’s six times. On the Stanislaus, four.

“Water rights exceed average natural runoff on 16 major rivers, UC Davis researchers found last year. And they were only counting so-called junior rights — those granted after 1914, the last time the Legislature updated California’s convoluted water allocation system.

 

Based on the actual, not theoretical, effect of these water rights, we should be saying, “So what?”  Why is that, you ask?  For very good, practical reasons, as detailed here.

Decreed (adjudicated) surface water rights usually have maximum amounts, and reductions in supply are addressed by the decree specifying that lower priorities must shut off diversions first.  If all are the same priority, then everyone shares the losses by taking the same percentage reduction in flow.  Surplus flows can be diverted under many decrees, not under others, but availability of surplus diversions usually means flows are higher than average, and anyway they come earlier in the season, before flows drop in the summer.  The great majority of these rights are for agriculture, which either feeds you and me, or is sold outside the State and adds to our economy and government coffers.  I say, Who cares?  Limits on the use of these water rights are forever in place!

Riparian water rights have correlative shares of the available water…and reduced supply means riparian diverters must reduce diversions correlatively.  Sure, riparian diverters can divert as much as they can use reasonably and beneficially, according to the California Constitution, Article X, Section 2.  But, So what?  Who cares?  The acreage with riparian rights decreases every single year, as parcels with riparian rights are split.  The resultant parcels not adjacent to the stream no longer have riparian rights, except in the very rare case of a landowner getting an attorney’s help to deliberately reserve riparian rights on newly split parcels.

What about appropriative rights?  Think about it this way: pre-1914 appropriative water rights were maximized in…1914!  As World War I was starting, when the population was about 3 million compared to today’s 39 million, there were no more pre-1914 rights.  Regarding these senior water rights, So what?  Who cares?

What about post-1914 appropriative water rights?  As Hamlet said, “Ay, there’s the rub!”  Post-1914 water rights have grown steadily since 1915, as they were continually issued first by the State Water Commission, and then by its successor, the State Water Resources Control Board.  These are water rights are junior to all of those listed above, and they are conditioned, or limited, by the Water Board.  As shown during the last couple of years, the Water Board has the power to order the curtailment of some or all of these junior rights.  I say again, So what?  Who cares?

“Aha!”, say some, “You forgot that groundwater is making up all the shortage!  And that all comes from surface water!”  Yes, and in 2014, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed to address exactly that.  It will take some years, but withdrawals will be more stable, by law, in years to come.  There would not BE groundwater deficits if surface water could get around the Delta as it originally did with SWP and CVP.  It is not for lack of money in the past to pay for pumps or even the planned peripheral canal, and it is not for the lack of technology to move the water.  It is for environmental reasons that the planned volume of water does not make it to the San Joaquin Valley.  But, that’s a subject for some later post.

Let’s be really absurd, and imagine that in California, the amount of water rights issued is ONE MILLION TIMES the average annual runoff!!!  If the average annual runoff is 70 million acre-feet, the water rights are now 70 Trillion, 70,000,000,000,000 AF Per Year!  Let’s all run around with our hair on fire!  But, what does this really mean?

If we have the same reservoirs for storage, then no more can be stored.  If there is half the runoff in a drought year, farmers, ranchers, cities, manufacturers, and other human users can still only capture and use a certain amount.  Having no more plumbing – reservoirs and canals – means a lot of water is still going to be in streams, and making it to the Pacific Ocean.  That’s “environmental” water for fisheries and other aquatic species.

If we have a record wet year, same thing.  Humans can still only capture and use what the plumbing allows.  A much higher percentage of water is available for non-human, environmental uses.  Same Plumbing = Same Maximum Water Use, regardless of water rights.

Let’s flip the argument around and imagine a California in which the average annual runoff is five times the water rights.  Put another way, total water rights are only one fifth the average annual runoff.  What would the State look like then?

This would be a lot closer to the non-human, environmental paradise imagined by the left-leaning populations of our densely-populated cities.  Scale back agriculture by a factor of 5, and then the rest of the State economy with it.  We would look more like a larger New Mexico, maybe a Colorado, than we do today.  And our 39 million residents?  We would have more like 8 million, as we had in World War II.  So, which 4 out of 5 choose to leave the State to bring about this flora and fauna utopia for the 1/5 that are left?  What, nobody is volunteering to leave California, and donate their property to the Sierra Club, to make this greater environmental national monument happen??  I didn’t think so.

This may be repetitious, but:  SO WHAT?  WHO CARES?

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Submerged Orifices From a Turned-Over Weir Board

Weir With Good Nappe
  Weir With Good Nappe

A flow measurement weir has to have a nappe that springs free, leaving an air gap (photo on left).  What if your weir becomes submerged for some reason (photo below), and boards cannot be adjusted to make it work properly as a weir?

Submerged Weir
  Submerged Weir, not working

 

 

 

 

One thing you can do is turn the weir into a submerged orifice.  The weir board can be turned over, maybe

Weir Board As Orifice
  Weir Board As Orifice

moved down a board position, so the same board serves as a rectangular submerged orifice.

To do this, all the flow needs to pass through a hole cut into the boards.  The depth of the hole doesn’t matter* as long as all of the hole is underwater enough to make it fully contracted.  The area of the hole is very important – it could be in square inches, but squwmm_top_of_table_a9-2_subm_rect_orif-editedare-foot areas are much more convenient to read flows directly from the USBR Water Measurement Manual.  From Table A9-2, flows can be read directly if the area is a multiple of 1/4 square foot.  For example, a hole that is 0.5′ (6 inches) by 0.5′ results in a 0.25 square-foot hole, which is the first column of the cross-sectional area values.

*If the hole is on the bottom and full-width, use Table A9-3, since the bottom will be suppressed.

This is me with 01_At_Diversionweir boards, starting to stack the boards for a weir.  I am using02_One_Board_In 2″ x 6″ lumber from Home Depot.  The lengths are cut about 2″ short of the slot width, so when they swell they won’t get stuck in the slots.  Once the04_1_Ft_Weiry’re all in, I end up with a 0.3′ high, 1.0’long, contracted weir.  The board took 5 minutes to measure and cut with a saw.

shawn_sticking_weir fadedWhen we got flow in the ditch, there was too much flow to use the 1.0′ weir.  Instead, I used the full length of the board, 3.3′, to measure the flow.  Here I am sticking the weir to get an accurate depth.

I turned over the same 06_1_Ft_Orificeweir board to make an orifice of 0.3′ x 1.0′, or 0.3 square feet.  That’s an area not in the tables of the Water
Measurement Manual, so I had to use the equation for a contracted, submerged, rectangular orifice.

This is a submerged orifice – you can’t see the 0.75 square-foot hole because it is underneath the waterOrifice_Side_Top_2.  There are two staff gages, one on the upstream side, and one on the downstream side.  The difference between the depths shown on the staff gages gives the head.  In this photo the head differential is 0.10′, less than the acceptable 0.20′ or higher.  We’ll go ahead and read the flow from Table A9-2 above, 1.16 cfs.

A square or rectangular headgate makes a great rectangular submerged orifice, with bottom and side contractions suppressed (photo on left).  Table A9-3 is used to read the flow for this type of submerged orifice.  Weir boards can also be used this way, so the orifice iAdjusting_gate_orifices on the bottom instead of somewhere in the middle of the stack of boards.  I don’t use boards this way because it makes more work – all the boards have to be removed to reconfigure the orifice back to a weir instead of just one or two.

That’s all for now, and may all your flow measurements be accurate!  Please leave a comment below, on flow measurement devices or anything else:

What Should You Do If Your Neighbor Is Stealing Your Water?? Rest Of The Story Version 2

This is the “Version 2” conclusion of the story What Should You Do If Your Neighbor Is Stealing Water?

Angry Neighbor Larry Lucifer - Photo Credit: Pixabay
Angry Neighbor Larry Lucifer – Photo Credit: Pixabay
Mark and Sally Saint Family - Photo Credit: Pixabay
Mark and Sally Saint Family – Photo Credit: Pixabay

Sally Saint was convinced that her neighbor, Larry Lucifer, has been stealing water.  She didn’t want to make an enemy of Larry but that may be impossible since Larry gets angry easily, has lots of opinions, and tells everyone else what they should do.  Sally called the California Department of Water Resources Watermaster Supervisor, and he gave her detailed advice.  So, what did Sally do with that advice?

Sally called the Water Board in Sacramento and found that Larry and she have a riparian water right.  Larry has been filing Statements of Use for the ditch, including for the Saint’s and others’ parcels that get water from the ditch.  As far as the Board knows, Larry is the sole owner of the wlucifer-saint_with_ditch_namesater right.

In Version 1 of this saga, Sally went over to talk to Larry, said that she thinks the Saints are not getting their right, and Larry threatened to take legal action and then kicked her off the property.  Mark and Sally ended up placing their own pump in the creek and avoiding Larry.

Today, in Version 2, Sally went over on Saturday and said hello to Larry.  She even brought fresh-baked cookies.  He was grumpy but willing to talk about irrigation from the Greig Ditch.  After a few easy questions, Sally asked, “Larry, can you help me understand the water rights on Rowdy Creek?”  Smart – this is an open question and gives Larry a chance to show how smart he is.

“Well, my grandparents and parents always said these are riparian rights.  I don’t know if there is an amount.  I know my property has riparian rights but you don’t anymore.”

Sally nodded.  “Okay, thanks for explaining that.  Your family owned all this once and if anyone still understands it’s you.  I appreciate you sending water through the ditch to us so we can irrigate, even if we don’t have a right.”

Larry nodded and said, “Well, you guys might still have a water right.  Or you could pay me for more.  I’ll sell it to you for $1,000 per acre-foot.  That’s a pretty good price.  I do all the work at the diversion, and ditch work, and you guys don’t pay anything.  You haven’t even offered to help.”

Backhoe Cleaning Dry Ditch, Photo Credit: Pixabay
  Backhoe Cleaning Dry Ditch, Photo Credit: Pixabay

Sally looked surprised and said, “You know, you’re right, Mark and I never even thought about that.  You do the work every year, and we really appreciate it.  We would like to help so you don’t have the whole load.  Can we rent a backhoe every other year and clean out the ditch?  I’ll help you at the dam – I know you build it up every year and put plastic in.”

pixabay_call_phone-61002_1280
Watermaster In His “Field Office” – Photo Credit: Pixabay

Larry thought about it.  “Well, yeah, you should be doing the work, too.  So, what’s the problem?  Why did you come over here, anyway?”

“We really want to understand our water rights.  If there was a way we could keep the pasture green a little longer, say, through August, that would really help.”

“Well Sally, I’m not even sure you have a water right.  But if you do half the maintenance, or pay something for me to do it, then as long as I get my water I don’t care what goes down the ditch to you guys.  You can go raise up the dam a little if you want more, too, just let me know if you are coming on my property.”

Sally thanked Larry again for helping her to understand.  She left while she still had a “win”, since she had a solution to get her water.  Since the Watermaster had spent time giving advice, she called back to let him know how it turned out.

The Watermaster explained: “Hey, that’s great, Sally!  Well done, you tamed the tiger a little bit and it sounds like you will get your water next year.  You have a

Putting In Small Rock Dam, Photo Credit: Pixabay
Putting In Larry’s Rock Dam, Photo Credit: Pixabay

riparian right, correct?  Remember that riparian rights are undefined – per the California Constitution, it’s whatever you can apply reasonably and beneficially, without wasting it.  As the flow drops in the stream you have to share the loss with other riparian diverters.  As a rough idea, you might have the full right through June 15 or 30, and by the end of August, maybe half, and the flow pops back up again at the end of October.  If nobody is complaining to you or Larry, you could raise or seal up your dam a little more in July to keep ditch flows a little higher.

The end of Version 2 of this story is that Sally talked with Mark, and he was pretty happy that they had an agreement with Larry.  They agreed that they should tread lightly and not talk with neighbors and others about it; if it got back to Larry he might get mad about the gossip and really mess with their flows!

What have you experienced – a Version 1, Version 2, or something else?  Please let us know in a comment!

Update To: New Local Provider of Cutthroat Flumes

UPDATE #2:  Thank you to Mr. Jon Wachter with OpenChannelFlow, for correcting my mistake; I could not get your comment to show up so here is your comment verbatim (my emphasis):

Name: Jon Wachter

Comment: Nice pics. One thing to point out though: What you have in the first two pics is a Montana flume and not a Montana Cutthroat flume.

The Montana flume is a modification of the standard Parshall flume with the throat and discharge sections removed. The advantage – other than cost and ease of installation over a flume length flume – is that you use the same flow equations as the Parshall flume.

The Cutthroat flume – correctly identified in the last two pictures – is a different beast entirely. Keep in mind that the Cutthroat flume can be quite sensitive to upstream conditions – which has somewhat limited its use in recent years.

Email: jwachter@openchannelflow.com

Website: http://www.openchannelflow.com

**********  ORIGINAL UPDATED POST  ****************

The AllWaterRights Blog has been online for a year now!  97 posts and going strong.  Tell your friends so they have water rights and flow measurement information, too.

More good news for diverters who will need to install measurement devices…as promised in a previous post, the friend who has started making cutthroat flumes is now making Montana Cutthroat flumes.

3-inch Montana Cutthroat Flume
  3-inch Montana Cutthroat Flume From Back

Here are a couple of photos of a 3-inch flume he just completed.  That sounds tiny, but it is nearly 1.0 feet tall, and it can measure up to about 0.85 cfs.  This flume is small enough for one person to install  by hand, with some expertise.  Installation goes relatively fast.

What is the advantage of small flumes?  In a ditch with some slope, where there are ripples in the flowing water, a weir can work well.  Weirs usually need 1′ to 1.5′ of stacked boards, with 0.45′ for water above the crest of the weir boards.  The minimum head (upstream water depth) required is about 1.5′ to 2′.  If a ditch is flatter, where the flowing water surface has few ripples, even more head will be required.  These 2 flumes need half or less the head of a weir.

3-inch Montana Cutthroat Flume
  3-inch Montana Cutthroat Flume From Side

Montana Cutthroat flumes require the minimum of material, that can still be highly accurate with care.  They cut out the expansion section of the cutthroat and Parshall flumes, so preparation of the ditch at the exit requires more care.  That is usually accomplished with some larger rock placed for several feet downstream of the end of the flume.  If the ditch bottom is already gravel or rock, then little extra work is required.

For a short-term trial installation, the flume might be installed with just dirt back-fill, and for permanent installations, it will require some added sheet-metal flanges on the upstream size.  Bagged pre-mixed concrete may be needed to back the upstream flanges.

All manufacturers I know, including my good friend who makes these, aim for better than +/- 5%, more like +/- 2 – 3%.  +/- 5% is the Water Board‘s requirement for devices certified by the manufacturer, and devices certified in the field must have +/- 10% accuracy.

The prices on these are competitive, especially because shipping will cost less.  These flumes give you, the diverter, more options for your particular budget and ditch conditions.

Flumes are just one option – maybe you have one that works well or you favor something else.  Please let us know in the poll below:

Original Post Excerpt:

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!  Posts in this blog have already covered

cutthroat_1-edited
Cutthroat Flume, Manufactured Locally

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 flows, say 0.05 to 0.68 cfs with high accuracy AND still reading flow directly in cfs.  The manufacturer is working to include higher flow ranges (up to 3 cfs, and more) with very stiff but still relatively low-weight construction.

cutthroat_4
Cutthroat Flume, Manufactured Locally

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 in 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.


Please leave a comment!

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What Happens To Surface Water Rights When Farms And Ranches Subdivide?

When a farm or ranch subdivides, what happens to the surface water rights?  We already got part of the answer from the State Water Resources Control Board, in Post # 82:

A018405_ewrims_lic_pg1_purpose_amtPermits And Licenses – What Are The Water Rights When Land Is Subdivided?  In summary, it is up to the water right holders to notify the Water Board that the land has subdivided and go from there.

The answer is well defined when a Superior Court Decree is under State of
California Watermaster Service:  Water Rights Reapportionment Method.  This document describes what is done under nearly all decrees with defined areas for water New_Pine_Dec1stpg_1925 - Editedrights, whether or not under state service…unless some other method is specified.  The State subdivides water rights whether or not new owners of subdivided parcels notify the Department of Water Resources; the requirement falls on the State instead of the water right holders.  Owners of land are notified at least once a year, since a charge for watermaster service is included on their tax bill.

What ACTUALLY happens with the water, when a subdivision is built on what used to be a farm or ranch?  Does water always go with water rights?

New Subdivision On Ranch With Water Rights - Photo Credit: Pixabay
New Subdivision On Ranch With Water Rights – Photo Credit: Pixabay

How do the owners of smaller parcels go about getting their water right?  In some cases, new owners have invested in pipelines to keep using the water right on the smaller parcels.  When the original owner subdivided the land, he or she made it clear that water rights were split up, or may have paid an attorney or engineer to split them up in advance.  These owners are well aware of what their rights are.  In other places, some new owners use water, others don’t, which is fine as long as a new owner doesn’t complain loudly.

Ex_2_Williamson_Parcel_Outline_on_DecreeMap_reducedIn still other locations, none of the new homeowners wanted to use the water, either because there was a built-in municipal supply of pure or treated water, or because one or more private or community wells were drilled.  The water right probably was not advertised as being available when the homes were built, and once the new owners were in, it became a lot more expensive to arrange pipelines across several neighbors’ properties to get a share of the surface water right.

What happens when nobody uses the water, or less water is used?  The answer is, of course, “It depends.”  If it is a decreed right, then the right stays with the

Subdivision On Old Farm - Photo Credit: Pixabay
Subdivision On Old Farm – Photo Credit: Pixabay

land unless the decree specifies another method.  It would take another court order to change the rights from what was originally decreed.  If it is a riparian right, then unless the owner was very careful to reserve riparian rights when subdividing the ranch, the only remaining rights are with those new parcels still adjacent to the stream.  Owners rarely think about reserving riparian rights in these cases, and so the riparian right is lost.  That is, unless:

  • The right was filed with the Water Board, either as a pre-1914 water right or a post-1914 application and the owner was subsequently issued a permit or license
  • …and the water continued to be used, and that use documented by the owner or with the Water Board
  • …and the water is used reasonably and beneficially, either for the original purpose of use, or for one of the many other appropriate purposes of use the Water Board considers reasonable and beneficial
  • …or, the right is part of a Superior Court adjudication, in which case the right is “eternal” because, for all the adjudications I have seen, there is no provision for expiration of rights.  Another court case is needed to change rights defined in the original decree.

I know this is not a neat, tidy explanation of what happens to water rights when a farm or ranch is subdivided.  Not surprisingly, water rights are well-understood by maybe 1% of California’s population.  No offense intended – only a few percent of the population lives on farms and ranches, and a fair number of those are in water or irrigation districts where the board and manager deal with the actual water rights.

In summary, this is an accurate description of what happens, as opposed to theoretical cases.  Water right subdivisions have a legal side, and a practical/applied side.  Sometimes the legal water right persists whether or not the water is used, as with riparian and court-decreed water rights.  Other times the reasonable, beneficial, and mostly continuous use of the water is what protects the existence of that right, for appropriative pre-1914 or post-1914 water rights.  Even if a pre- or post-1914 water right is not used for some years, when the owner does start using the water, if nobody complains, there is nothing to trigger action by the Water Board, or a lawsuit by neighbors.  After a few years of use, it will be hard for a complaining party to make the case for loss of the right because of the previous gap in time.

By the way, except where courts have decreed what the groundwater rights are, they are most like surface water riparian rights.  Regardless of the size of subdivided parcels, all of them still overlie groundwater and have a right to use it.  Control of their use is increasing with the  Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and priorities (effective or actual) will be established, but that is a discussion for some later post.

What Should You Do If Your Neighbor Is Stealing Your Water?? Rest Of The Story Version 1

This is the “Version 1” conclusion of the story What Should You Do If Your Neighbor Is Stealing Your Water?  Version 2 will be out in a couple of weeks.

Angry Neighbor Larry Lucifer - Photo Credit: Pixabay
Angry Neighbor Larry Lucifer – Photo Credit: Pixabay
Mark and Sally Saint Family - Photo Credit: Pixabay
Mark and Sally Saint Family – Photo Credit: Pixabay

Sally Saint was convinced that her neighbor, Larry Lucifer, has been stealing water.  She didn’t want to make an enemy of Larry but that may be impossible since Larry gets angry easily, has lots of opinions, and tells everyone else what they should do.  Sally called the California Department of Water Resources Watermaster Supervisor, and he gave her detailed advice.  So, what did Sally do with that advice?

Sally called the Water Board in Sacramento and found that Larry and she have a riparian water right.  Larry has been filing Statements of Use for the ditch, including for the Saint’s and others’ parcels that get water from the ditch.  As far as the Board knows, Larry is the sole owner of the wlucifer-saint_with_ditch_namesater right.

Sally went over on Saturday and said hello to Larry.  She even brought fresh-baked cookies.  He was grumpy but willing to talk about irrigation from the Greig Ditch.  After a few easy questions, Sally asked, “Larry, how do I know what my water right is?”

“I don’t know, it’s your job to figure it out for your property.”

Sally tried another tack: “I noticed that your field stays green through August, and mine starts drying up in July.  I don’t know if this is correct, but it seems like maybe our field is getting less than our water right.  What do you think?”

“Dang it Sally, I make sure some water gets to you.  Do you have a way to measure it?  I don’t, and you don’t, so how the heck do you know you are not

Backhoe Cleaning Dry Ditch, Photo Credit: Pixabay
  Backhoe Cleaning Dry Ditch, Photo Credit: Pixabay

getting your full water right?  Besides, I clean out the ditch and keep it flowing with my backhoe, my fuel, my time, and I never ask you for help.”

Sally was a little embarrassed.  She had not thought about the work Larry did that helped her family out; she was getting to ready to acknowledge Larry’s help and tell him thanks when Larry barked, “You know what, Sally, I learned long ago don’t do anybody any favors.  My mistake for not making you pay your part.  Why don’t you get off my property, and I’ll have my attorney contact you.  If that’s not good enough I’ll get a court restraining order.  How about that?  I’m not sure how much water is going to make it down the ditch next year.  Now leave and don’t come back.”

Sally left, boiling mad and flabbergasted.  What did she do wrong?  Should she just forget it?  Were there really jerks like this, who you can’t talk to?  Sally went home and fumed, and then called the Water Board to demand some answers.  What were her rights, and how did she figure them out?  She couldn’t get anyone on the phone who would take the time; the Water Board was way too busy enforcing the SB 88 deadlines for measurement device installation.  Sally called back to the Department of Water Resources in Red Bluff and talked to one of the  Watermasters.  She explained everything that had happened.

pixabay_call_phone-61002_1280
  Watermaster In His “Field Office” – Photo Credit: Pixabay

The Watermaster explained: “Yeah, I’m sorry Sally, sometimes that’s the way it goes.  You have a riparian right, correct?  Well riparian rights are undefined – per the California Constitution, it’s whatever you can apply reasonably and beneficially, without wasting it.  You can’t ship it off your property, but you could use it anywhere, for any crop, livestock, and short-term storage less than 30 days.  As the flow drops in the stream you have to share the loss with other riparian diverters.  As a rough idea, you might have the full right through June 15 or 30, and by the end of August, maybe half, and the flow pops back up again at the end of October.

“You do have a right to maintain your ditch.  However, that doesn’t mean a neighbor won’t sue, which costs money and time no matter what.  If it were my place, I don’t think I’d walk on your neighbor’s land without permission.

“Hey, here’s an idea.  There’s no reason you couldn’t divert your flow from your

Pump - Photo Credit: Pixabay
  Pump – Photo Credit: Pixabay

own diversion.  Yes, you’re right, you would have to pump it, since the creek is a little downhill of where it would need to get onto your place.  The pump will cost a few hundred, plus some hundreds in sprinkler lines, plus some power cost each year, and right now you get the water for free with gravity.  But if you wanted, you could avoid dealing with your neighbor on water.  Oh, and since you would be pumping, think about putting in sprinklers to keep it efficient.

“Another thing to think about – what if he gets mad and cuts off the water completely?  You could see a lawyer and take it to court, and it would be decided once and for all.  But, a court action is very expensive, whether you win or lose, and you never know how a judge is going to decide.  Having your own pump might be a lot less expense and hassle in the long run.

“At least you have the option of your own diversion; think about people who aren’t riparian and aren’t getting their water.  They have to complain to the Water Board, or hire an attorney, and maybe even sue in court!

“I wish I had a better answer for you.  Right, ‘water’s for fighting, whiskey’s for drinking,’ as the old saying goes.  As you’re seeing now, sometimes water just seems like an excuse to carry on an argument.  Putting in a pump might be your best option.  Call back if you have any questions, okay?  I hope it works out well in the end.”

The end of the story is that Sally talked with Mark, and she was careful not to talk about her neighbor at the salon – gossip spreads like fire in a small town.  Mark and Sally decided to put in a small pump, some pipe, and some small sprinkler lines.  That way, they would not have to deal with Larry at all, and they would make sure to irrigate all the pasture.

Next time we’ll look at Version 2 of the end of the story.  Could things turn out differently, depending on how Sally approached Larry?  We’ll see!

Update – Recommended Water Level Logger: PMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31

This is an update from my earlier post on my recommendation for a durable, set-it-and-forget-it water level logger.  Some kind of device is necessary to meet Water Board requirements; daily data must be recorded July 1, 2017 for those diversions of 100 to 1,000 acre-feet per year, and hourly data must be recorded starting January 1, 2017 for those 1,000 acre-feet and higher.  These roughly correspond to minimum irrigation season water rights of 0.37 to 3.7 cfs, and 3.7 cfs and higher.

To review, here is the Water Board’s table of measuring and monitoring requirements.  I added the 2 columns on the right to show the approximate water rights and year-round flow in CFS:

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

The PMC guys had to make a change in the sensor, so now the recommended setup is the PMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31 Water Level Datalogger.  It will cost the same and be as durable.  Regarding the reason for the change, pmc_header-editedversaline-vl4511-and-wls-31-water-level-datalogger-specs-editedBob Foster at PMC wrote: “This system will come with our VL4511 level sensor and not the VL2000 that we initially spoke to you about.

The reason for the change is the VL2000 required slightly more power than what is available through the datalogger battery, so we decided to provide an upgraded sensor model, which uses much less power.

This upgraded sensor, our VL4511 also has the advantage of using:

  1. An all-welded Titanium housing, which has a 5-year corrosion warranty
  2. Significantly smaller diameter

Additionally, it still has anti-clog features near the sensing element to ensure reliability.”

I also asked Bob about battery replacement.  Some well-known loggers have to be sent back to the manufacturer to have the batteries replaced.  The battery lives are 1 to 2 years.  What about the PMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31?

Bob reassured me that the PMC unit’s batteries are replaced in the field, by the landowner, or the engineer or technician acting for the diverter.  Battery lives are still only 1 to 2 years.  However, the batteries are inexpensive, about $7 each.  That keeps your costs and hassle to a minimum.

What about expected maintenance at the manufacturer?  While some better-known data loggers typically have to be sent in every 2 to 3 years, the PMC unit is expected to need no manufacturer’s maintenance for 10 years!

Original post:

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!