Water Board Letters, Reducing Or Denying Additional Time / Alt. Comply Plans Being Reviewed

Many diverters or pond owners are getting letters like the one shown below, reducing or denying a Request For Additional Time.  The letter looks threatening, because that is how letters from regulatory agencies (bureaucracies) have to look.  Keep in mind that the Water Board won’t start issuing fines the day after the deadline.  Usually what happens next is a 30-day letter to cease and desist, or correct a deficiency, or face fines of $500 per day.

What should you do?

On August 10, 2017, I sent Kathy an email asking about Alternative Compliance Plans for diversions in closed basins:

“Hi Kathy,

I have a client whose water rights are all in one closed basin.  This owner owns all the lands where the water flows, either naturally, or when diverted from streams.  The end effect is, whether the diverter actually diverts or not, all the water ends up only on his land.

There are reservoirs involved.  The water rights could be in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 AF.

The argument is, since nobody else is or could be affected, there is no benefit to the State of measuring this water.

What are your thoughts on Alternative Compliance Plan for every water right on the ranch?  Would the Water Board put this on the bottom of the pile for places to look at, or toward the top?

Thank you,

Shawn”

Kathy’s answer was:

“Hi Shawn –

The measurement regulation does not have an exception from measurement based on location of the water source.  Any alternative compliance plan would need to identify the proposed measurement frequency and proposed measurement methodology.  It would also need to include an explanation and substantiating documentation of alternative compliance.  Absent substantiation of the specific basis for reduced performance standards, the plan must state how compliance with the measurement regulation will be achieved.  You ask for my thoughts on submitting an alternative compliance plan for each of the ranch water rights.  You should only submit plans which satisfy the regulatory standards. 

You ask whether the Division would put this on the bottom of the pile of items to look at.  Jeff and I have been actively looking at the alternative compliance plans submitted thus far.  We coordinate our actions with Lily.  We are actively evaluating the plans because we feel an obligation to let people know how they have done with their proposals. 

Kathy Mrowka”

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Watchman Flumes, Tough And Accurate

This summer has been busy!  Posts here have fallen behind as I have been keeping up with clients’ needs for SB 88 compliance.

I am taking just a moment to mention the new Watchman Flumes.  A new manufacturer is making these heavy-duty flumes tough enough that cattle could step on one or rub against it and probably not bend it.

10-gauge steel is used, slightly thicker than 1/8″.  The walls and ramps are heavily reinforced with 1/8″ angle-iron and high-strength Grade 8 bolts to minimize flexing and bending.  Back-filling these flumes will not bend the walls or wingwalls, even when using concrete for fill.

Watchman Flumes are delivered disassembled with all the fasteners.  At this time the manufacturer is only selling through Rights To Water Engineering, but that may change in the future.

Sizes range from 2 to 60 cubic feet per second.  The flumes are accurate to better than +/- 5%, which is well within the Water Board’s requirement of +/- 10% for new measurement devices.

These are priced competitively with pre-manufactured flumes for similar flows, too.  That makes higher durability and longer life at the same price as flumes made from 1/16″ sheet metal.

Expect to see more of these going in at diversions around Northern and Central California.  I will post photos of installations as I get permission from landowners.