Solving Diverters' Headaches To Provide Peace Of Mind And Help Stay Out Of Trouble
Category: Accurate, Lasting Devices
There are standard measurement devices on the lower end of cost: weirs, orifices, and flumes. They can be easily purchased pre-fabricated, saving you time and money. Accuracy and speed of measurement make these great for reporting and for defending your diversion against challenges. High tech options like acoustic Dopplers, magnetic meters, and propeller meters cost more but save time for larger diversions. All are good to +/- 5% or better when installed, easily meeting any standard for field measurements.
How do you measure flow in a pipeline? The simplest
way is integrated, saddle-mounted propeller or magnetic meters. For example, see the post on McCrometer magnetic flow meters: https://allwaterrights.com/tag/inline-magnetic-flow-meter/. Propeller meters look much the same. Both mount through a hole cut in the pipeline, making them quick to install, and easy to remove for maintenance. These meters can handle some sediment and still be accurate, although water with a lot of silt and sand wears out propellers faster.
What about cost? For integrated meters, the costs start at about $3,200 delivered, and go up with diameter.
If you want to spend the least amount of money and still have accurate flow
measurement, a paddlewheel meter may be a good solution. These can be integrated, or can be assembled from the meter, data collector,
display, and possibly other parts.
For an idea of the cost, an IP 800 paddlewheel meter, FT450 display, and DL76 data collector for a small pipeline cost about $2,000 delivered.
That is about $1,200 cheaper than a magnetic meter for the same-sized pipeline.
So, why not always use a paddlewheel meter rather than more expensive magnetic or propeller meters? Paddlewheels wear out faster if there is sediment in the pipeline. I have seen installations where pumping from a muddy river wore out a paddlewheel
in a year, but a propeller meter lasted 3 years pumping from the same river before needing refurbishment. The shaft and wheel can be replaced in the field, at a lower cost than propeller or magnetic meter refurbishment. However, busy farmers and ranchers don’t have time to check the paddlewheel once or twice a year, so the meter installation is at a greater risk of losing data than a propeller or magnetic meter.
If you are brave or experienced enough, you could get a paddlewheel integrated with the data collector, and no external display. This would get your delivered cost down to about $1,500. Data needs to be downloaded more often, perhaps every 2 to 3 months, to ensure the meter is working correctly. Also, the meter needs to be installed from the side, not the top, so more clearance is required to the side.
How can large diversions be measured? Long-throated flumes are a good option, especially if the ditch has low banks, or a lot of sediment or debris could clog a weir or orifice. Premanufactured Parshall or Replogle flumes go up to around 20 cubic feet per second (9,000 gallons per minute). If they are made for larger flows than that, they are prohibitively expensive to ship or manufacture.
Recently, though, Watchman long-throated flumes have become available. They are made in Northern California, so shipping costs are lower. They typically go up to 20 cubic feet per second in size, but I have installed a 30-cfs Watchman flume. The manufacturer can easily make larger-capacity flumes, too – standard plans go up to 60 cfs, and they can be shipped in ready-to-assemble sections for up to 200 cfs.
Watchman flumes are made of 10-gauge steel, a little thicker than 1/8 inch. The premanufactured flumes I have seen ship from outside the state are made of 16-gauge steel, which is about 1/16″ thick. These can work well if care is taken during installation, but the Watchman’s heavier gauge steel can withstand more backfill and rougher treatment. They’ll last longer, too.
What about cost? It turns out that Watchman flumes are about the same cost per cubic foot per second, as flumes made from lighter-gauge steel. Some farmers and ranchers like concrete better than steel. Watchman flumes can be built inside Briggs pre-cast concrete rice boxes and weir boxes, if you need an installation to last for 30 years or more.
Where can you buy these? The manufacturer does not advertise – let me know and I can put you in touch with them.
Onset has a neat Bluetooth Hobo water level logger. The MX-2001, with the cap removed, hooks up to the MX-2001-TOP with a cable, and once installed, is
downloaded with the free Hobomobile smartphone app. The app does everything you’d normally need a data shuttle and cable for – starting, setup, configuration, downloading, and stopping the logger.
The top unit with the Bluetooth radio has to be out of the water, so of course the top of the stilling well holding the unit has to be 1.0 feet or higher up out of the water. If the stilling well is galvanized iron pipe, you’ll need to get within a few feet to download it. If you are using PVC you might get a connection at 100 feet.
Will two units close to each other interfere? Nope, the app finds both and lets the user choose which unit to work with. As with any water level logger installation, keep a logbook or spreadsheet with the Serial Numbers for each location so you aren’t confused later.
What about barometric pressure? The TOP unit records barometric pressure, so you don’t need a second unit for atmospheric pressure, nor do you have to know the elevation difference between two separated units. The unit subtracts atmospheric from absolute pressure, then gives you all 3 values when you download: absolute, atmospheric, water only. That makes data processing much easier.
In California, you should be able to get one of these shipped to you for $750. Compare that to the regular Hobos, which need one in the air, one in the water, and a data shuttle and cable. It would put you back almost $1,000 to get the separate pieces shipped to you. If you have two or more locations to log, then the old style is less expensive as far as parts go. Still, the Bluetooth version is likely more cost effective when you consider the minutes saved each time the Bluetooth unit is downloaded, compared to unlocking or unscrewing the cap, getting the water unit out, downloading it, and replacing the cap or lock.
If you have a reservoir, the Water Board requires you to measure and report: how much you divert to it, how much water you store in it by month, and how much water you release if the pond has a controllable outlet. It is usually not possible (or at least not feasible) to measure the inflow, so what is actually reported is the monthly positive change in storage, the amount that fills it up.
If your reservoir is less than 10 acre-feet (AF) per year, you only have to report it. Measurement is not required.
How do you know how much is stored in your reservoir? Each pond needs an elevation-storage table or curve, as the Water Board calls it. Engineers call it an area-capacity table or curve – that’s what I created during part of my career as a water bureaucrat. I’ll use the Water Board’s terminology here since water diversions and storage are reported to them.
First check to see if the Water Board or Division of Safety of Dams has an inspection report for your reservoir. If not that, then an elevation-storage table or curve may be available. You can have it emailed as a PDF. If there is no information for your reservoir, then you have to create the table and curve yourself.
First a reservoir has to be surveyed, so you know how full it is for any given elevation of water. The elevations start at zero storage. The figure below shows a cross section and the contour map for a reservoir with a minimum elevation of 86 feet.
How do you survey a reservoir? You could hire an engineer or surveyor to survey it. Depending on your budget and your need for accuracy, the elevation-storage table from a survey could be anywhere from +/- 5%, to +/- 10% accurate. The Water Board requires +/- 10% for larger reservoirs, and +/- 15% for 100 acre-foot (AF) or smaller reservoirs. I recommend aiming for +/- 5% in case you have significant errors elsewhere in the measurement system.
On the high end, the survey could be done using GPS survey instruments, so the result could be accurate and could overlay other digital maps. Almost as high a cost is to have a transit with EDM (electronic distance measurement). Robotic units only require one person acting as the rodman, and the instrument “follows” by keeping pointed at the laser prism reflector.
At the bottom end of the scale, a survey level or possibly a hand level, and a couple of 100′, 200′, or 300′ tapes can be used. Many survey levels can read horizontal angles within a degree or two, so the instrument person can note angle and distance to every point. If angles are not used, then two tapes are used, one to measure the distance along a side, the other to measure perpendiculars out to the rodman. In the boat, the rodman measures depths, and on land he has a telescoping level rod to get elevations above the water level. This way you measure X and Y distances that are plotted on a grid along with each point’s elevation or depth.
With plotted points, now you can draw contours for every foot, or every two feet, or every five feet, depending on the size of your reservoir. Then calculate the area for each contour, and the volume between each set of contours.
Here’s where Google Earth can be your best friend. Navigate to your property and reservoir in Google Earth. Then take a digital photo of your contour map, and import it into Google Earth as an image overlay. Make it 50 percent transparent, and move and resize the image until it fits over your reservoir. Now you can use the polygon tool, trace over your contours, and let Google Earth calculate the areas for you! Make sure to get those areas in square feet or acres and not square miles.
An alternative way of doing this is to print out a map of your reservoir from Google Earth, then draw your survey points and contours right on that map. Then when you import the scanned or photographed, edited map, it will be a lot easier to overlay on your reservoir.
Make an elevation-storage table and draw an elevation-storage curve like the one below.
Let’s look at an example. To get the reservoir volume, add the areas of two adjacent contours, say, the 90-foot contour and the 92-foot contour, divide by 2, then multiply by the elevation difference (in this case, 2 feet). If the 90-foot contour has an area of 6.1 acres, and the 92-foot contour has an area of 7.6 acres, the calculation is [(6.1 + 7.6) / 2] * 2 = 13.7 AF.
Here’s the great thing about simple methods: anyone can measure his own reservoir by reading up on it first (Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo) and then taking some care (and good notes) to do the job well. If the topography is difficult, or the pond is too large for tapes, or you are just too busy doing the work you have to get done, then talk with an engineer and negotiate cost vs. quality and accuracy.
I attended the Flow Measurement Devices and Methods course in Cottonwood yesterday, for diverters to become a “qualified individual” per AB 589. What a great class! All my appreciation and applause to Larry Forero, Allan Fulton, and Khaled Bali of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who taught the course. They laid out the requirements and the details of several ways to comply with SB 88, including weirs, flumes, water level loggers (pressure transducers with data collectors), in-line meters, in-line differential pressure, how to determine and track reservoir volume, and how to report changes in volume.
There were specific examples of how to size a weir to install the correct device, how to convert measured flow rates to the volumes that must be reported to the Water Board, and how to select an inline meter if your diversion is piped. There were detailed examples of how to comply with the Water Board’s reporting requirements, and discussion of the most relevant parts of SB 88.
I hope that Larry and Allan will make their Powerpoint presentation available online for public use. It is well done and really helps understand how to comply with SB 88, both in the field and online at the Water Board.
Update: Allan Fulton contacted me and let me know that this course IS accepted by the Water Board! So sign up, take the 3-4 hour course, and you will be certified to install your own measurement device(s).
I heard a week ago that it isn’t a 100 percent lock that completion of the course will be accepted by the Water Board. However, the course is more than adequate in my estimation, and I don’t think the Water Board has any alternatives to comply with AB 589. It is going to be accepted!
AB 589 says, in part:
“…any diverter who has completed an instructional course regarding the devices or measurement method included in the course administered by the University of California Cooperative Extension, including passage of a proficiency test before the completion of the course, shall be considered a qualified individual when installing and maintaining devices or implementing methods of measurement that were taught in the course for the diverter’s diversion.”
Thanks to the Shasta Livestock Auction Yard for providing the location – my guess is that there were 140 people attending, a good crowd for this narrow subject. The Cattlemen’s Association got the word out and provided refreshments. It was hundreds of hours of work among 8 people or so to pull this off. Job well done, everyone!
How are water pressure logger measurements converted to diverted flows or reservoir storage? Why does anyone even have to have an electronic pressure logger? PMC, Onset Computer, 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?
Most “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 7.00 psi, then the calculation to get depth is 7.00 psi / 0.4335 psi per foot = 16.15 feet of depth.
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.
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:
I have talked to a few hundred people about reservoirs over the last year. How is a reservoir different from a pond? What size has to be measured? If you have a reservoir, how do you measure it? Can a 15 acre-foot pond be measured the same way as a 1,500 acre-foot reservoir? I have been estimating the storage for years, can’t I just keep doing that?
A reservoir is man-made, and may or may not have a pipe outlet. “Pond” is a more general term and does not signify whether the body of water is natural or man-made. Reservoirs include everything from less than 1 acre-foot stock ponds with a dam a few feet high, to Shasta Reservoir (Lake Shasta).
Every reservoir over 10 acre-feet has to have its storage volume measured monthly or more often, up to hourly for 1,000 acre-foot and larger reservoirs. How is that done? We’ll get to that in a few paragraphs. Here is the table from theWater Boardthat specifies diversion amounts, storage amounts, compliance deadlines, accuracy, monitoring frequency, and who can do the work. Personal gripe: Hey, Water Board web design folks, your web pages are dang hard to see for folks that are over 50! I had to modify the screenshot just so folks can see the rows and columns.
NOTE: if you take the new class that the U.C. is putting together, you can install and certify your own measurement device(s)!
How can you comply, and what has to be done? There are thousands, or tens of thousands of ways considering every permutation of each option, but I am going to list the four main ones that I use, from cheapest to most expensive:
Alternative Compliance Plan– This is doing something besides standard compliance and still coming up with accurate-enough storage values at the
necessary frequency. Within an ACP are thousands of possibilities, but the simplest case is a 10 acre-foot reservoir 3 driving hours away from the ranch house or first gate, not accessible in the winter. An ACP for this often boils down to this: it is a landscape feature, no action of man is needed to fill or drain it, livestock and wildlife rely on it, it takes most of a day to get there and back, and a data collector is likely to get stomped on if cattle or elk can ever get to it. This is the “I’m just going to keep estimating it and that meets everyone’s needs” option, and I think it is valid in a fair number of cases. Just see some of the ACPs I have filed. An ACP is harder to justify at the large end of reservoirs, but it might include things like occasional drone flights, usingCIMIS data for evaporation, perhaps only measuring the outlet some distance downstream of the reservoir while estimating storage, and so on.
Run a tape measure or long plastic tape from the edge of the dam road, down to the water’s edge, once a month or whatever the necessary frequency is. This requires getting the inspection report, or at least the area-capacity curve from the Water Board. You need two pieces of information: the slope of the water-side dam surface, and the storage volume at a few intervals of depth. Most small reservoirs that I have seen have a water-side dam slope of 3 feet horizontally to 1 foot vertically. Area-capacity curves can vary, and in the rare case where the Water Boardor theDivision of Safety of Damsdoes not have a curve, you’ll need to do a survey of some depths to generate contours and make the curve.
Install staff gages. This involves driving or setting lengths of 2″ galvanized pipe that overlap vertically with the next pipe up-slope or down-slope. Then 2″ x 6″ lumber and 3′ or longer gages are bolted to the pipe, using a survey level to make sure the 5-foot mark, for example, at the top of one gage matches the 5′ mark at the bottom of the next-higher gage. This can cost a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, depending on how much work you do vs. hiring work out, access, depth of the reservoir, and so on. Oregon Ruleis one good company to get the staff gages.
Install water level loggers to collect pressure data, and convert the data to depths, then to elevations, and then to storage volumes, after the data is downloaded. This is standard compliance. What if you don’t have power lines to the dam? There are many data loggers that run on batteries, for times of 2 years up to 12 years. I mostly use the Onset HoboandPMC Versalinewater level loggers. Hobos are put in protective, short PVC lengths, with a moderate weight, a rope, and buoy, and then setting them at the deepest part of the reservoir using a boat. Data is downloaded by boating out, hauling up the Hobo, and putting it back in the same place. This is easy if a heavy weight is attached by a second rope to the same or a different buoy to keep the location constant. The PMC Versaline keeps the data collector on shore, with a cable to the water level logger. It is installed in whatever length of PVC pipe is needed to get from the dam at a point above where any water gets, down to the logger end. Then, no boat is needed to download data. Which option is better? See some of my earlier posts on the specifics of water level loggers.
Those are brief explanations, but you can find the detail in earlier posts on my blog, and some other blogs. Does this help you? Please let me know, whether yes, no or maybe!
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.
I am glad to be getting measuring devices and data loggers installed – it is enjoyable work and diverters are getting peace of mind. All of my work is confidential so clients’ names won’t be mentioned without permission. That being said, a few projects can be discussed here.
This is a unique weir installation – it is doing two things at once. Two 4′ wide weirs are side by side, set on a leveled, compacted base of 3/4″ minus road base.
First, it has a splitter built in as part of the weir – see the low wall behind me. Two water rights are precisely split inside the weir itself so each user gets the correct amount.
Second, it is a double weir. The ditch has low banks, but around 10 cfs needs to be accurately measured. Weirs ideally pass a maximum of 1 cfs per foot of width, so this exceeds that by 25%, while still keeping the water inside the ditch. So, why use weirs instead of a flume, which can pass much more flow per foot of width? Weirs are better understood in this area, the ditch has adequate width, and it makes splitting the flows easier.
A plate metal wall splits the 2 weirs into 3. Board slots were added with angle iron…you can guess from the photo that the iron lengths had to be cut down a bit for a 1-board, 2″ x 12″ weir.
Board slots had to be bolted on both sides of the plate steel. My friend Bob, owner of B & J Welding & Machine, Inc. in Anderson, cut, welded and drilled the plate steel wall.
A water level logger sits at the back of the shared weir walls, and records hourly water levels 24 x 7 x 365. Vandalism is a concern so the logger is locked up, and only the owner and I can get in.
1/4″ thick plate metal wingwalls upstream and downstream protect against flow working its way around the sides. The wingwalls add stability, keeping the weirs from tipping sideways or tilting up- or downstream.
The final result is s solid, long-lasting installation that meets the requirements of SB 88!