Highest And Best Use – Eye Of The Beholder, Part 1 of Many

What is the highest and best use of water?  That’s a loaded question – ask 10 of your friends and get ready for some long conversations.
pump DSC06523Highest and best use is the doctrine that water should be used for the most valuable purposes.  Most people probably agree that the highest use is human health and safety – drinking water and fighting house or apartment fires being at the top of the list.

stream IMG_8137What comes next?  The answer depends on where you are, many court cases, what your business is, and right at the root of all human valuations, your world view.  Is your view of the world that humans and businesses come first, or that animals and environmental uses are most important?  This aspect of who we are, our world plum branch IMG_5832_view, is the foundation of our beliefs and our filter for all information.  World view discussions already have 10 million or more blogs so we won’t discuss that here.

Regarding water, what else determines the ranking of best and highest uses?  If you live in North Carolina, then rainfall is relatively abundant.  Sure, water needs to be moved to where it is needed, but handling floods might be more of a concern than enough rainfall.  If you live in a part of the world where surface water is scarce, like California, then every water use competes with others in dry years.

This is a short pgrain field _DSC2817ost and it will be fleshed out in the coming months.  For now, everybody have a great week.

 

California Water News All In One Place – Aquifornia

How do you keep up on California’s water news?  A great place to see articles for all major and many local newspapers is Aquafornia.

I fell behind on my blog and missed the weekly deadline, so I am behind a couple of days.  Travel for my son’s college graduation on the other coast, as well as Internet issues played a part.  Now my schedule is back on track and I’ll get another post in this week to make up for the tardy post.

Newspaper articles vary in length, coverage of the subject, and context.  The quality depends on reporters’ experience and editors’ interest in water subjects.  Since the great majority of California’s population lives in urban areas, reporting on water issues can be brief and leave out detail regarding agricultural issues.  Water rights is a complicated subject and it can be difficult to figure out what a reporter is actually saying when writing about some aspects of changes that can affect diversions!

AuaiforniaThe great thing about Aquafornia is that they aggregate, or pull together, a whole bunch of articles in one place.  I have been reading news articles from their site for years to keep up on news inside my area of expertise, as well as reporting well outside my own interests.

It’s always good to know what;s coming down the pipeline that might widely impact water rights.  For example, urban and environmental water shortages or water quality issues will certainly affect agricultural water rights in the long run, possibly even in the near future.


Screenshot 2016-05-11 at 06.50.27 - EditedAquafornia
is a whole lot more than current water news.  The site, hosted by the Water Education Foundation, is an encyclopedia of Statewide water issues.  If you want to do research on any water subject, it’s a very good place to start or get pointed in the right direction.

Great Writing on Variety of Water Issues – California WaterBlog

This blog is about California water rights, diversions, devices, and how measurement devices work, plus a few posts on larger or different issues.  For a great source on a wide variety of water concerns in California, check out the California WaterBlog:  https://californiawaterblog.comCalifornia_WaterBlog

Reading this is like taking some college classes (but faster and more interesting), especially if you check out some of the linked sources.

The April 17 post is really interesting; everyone wants to end groundwater overdraft, which decreases the amount of available groundwater.  Increasing overdraft makes wells have to go ever deeper to get water while drying up some existing wells.  However, there is a cost to any new action, and some folks have figured out costs of getting more water through the Delta to fill up the San Joaquin and Tulare groundwater holes:  at least $50 Million, maybe as high as $1.5 Billion per year:  https://californiawaterblog.com/2016/04/17/californias-delta-groundwater-nexus-economic-and-water-supply-effects-of-ending-groundwater-overdraft-in-californias-central-valley/

Anyway, check out this blog, they talk about every aspect of California water!

How Can You Keep Up With The Water Board?

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How can anyone keep up with all the new regulations from the California Water Board?  Subscribe to the email lists affecting you (links below).

It’s impossible to keep up with everything, so we have to pick and choose.  But the pace of Water Board regulations is already jet-speed and headed toward hypersonic.  It’s wise for everyone who diverts surface water to subscribe to relevant email lists and then at least scan the ones that look important.  The link for all Water Board Subscriptions is:

http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/

The link for statewide issues is below.  I think I counted 174 possible email lists, but you can probably pick the 10 that affect you the most and keep up pretty well by reading these:

http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/swrcb_subscribe.shtml

Of course, AllWaterRights.com, this blog, will highlight the most important issues for surface water diversion measurement, water rights, laws, and regulations.  Come back often and you’ll see one or two new posts each week.  🙂

As a bonus for those of you who read this post, here are a couple of Death Valley photos my wife and I took last weekend.  This year there is a super bloom!  Last year was very wet, DeathValleySuperBloomand while we were there were good showers in several parts of the valley.

There is also stunningly beautiful geology, with colors ranging from white to black, and in between amazing hues of green, red, blue, orange, yellow, purple….  It’s the first time we had ever been there in daylight and we want to go back.  If it is raining in Death Valley, that bodes well for all of California this year.DeathValleyGeology_2

Good night all, and enjoy the rain and snow!

Water Management (Sharing Shortages) In California In the Short and Long Term, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, why would a groundwater shortage in San Diego affect how much a surface water diverter in Modoc County could use…rather, how much the diverter has to reduce his use?  Where does all groundwateWatercyclesummaryr come from?  Surface water flowing in streams, accumulating in meadows, ponds, and lakes replenishes groundwater, whether it takes a year, 3 years, or 20 years.
Rainfall infiltrates (soaks in) until the soil has no more capacity, and then runs off.  Groundwater is directly connected to, and depends on the amount of surface water.

In 2009, just 7 years ago, the California Legislature passed and the Governor signed Senate Bills 1, 6, 7, and 8.  These new laws required:

In 2013, 4 short years later, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act passed.  This is a gigantic change in state groundwater laws – 515 groundwater basins in California are now prioritized based on overdraft, increased groundwater pumping, and falling groundwater levels; or conversely, the health of groundwater basins – some are hardly even touched.  On this map, now everybody can see what was neCASGEM_BasinPrioritization_Statewidearly invisible 2 years ago – the state of our groundwater basins.

About 2/3 of California’s water falls in the northern 1/3 of the State.  However, most of the good agricultural land, as well as most of its population, is in that drier 2/3 of the State.

Back to San Diego potentially affecting how much water can be diverted in Modoc County…does San Diego even have a groundwater basin?  Yes it does, along the Sweetwater River.  Of course this isn’t hydrologically connected to drainage from the Pit River in Modoc County; the Pit River ultimately eCASGEM_BasinPrioritization_SanDiegonters the Pacific Ocean in the Sacramento River-San Joaquin River Delta, and the Sweetwater enters the ocean on the shores of the City of San Diego.

Think about it:  7 short years ago, groundwater was mostly a mystery to 90% of folks, and surface water management was hardly “integrated”, except for the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), State Water Project (SWP), and some relatively small projects.  20 years from now?  Heck, that’s 2036; I’ll bet that, just continuing the –> trajectory –> of legislation that started in 2009, by 2030 (14 years from now), surface water and groundwater will be so connected and co-managed, that shortages in San Diego will require diversions to be reduced from where the water is in those northernmost Counties contributing to the Sacramento River drainage:  Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, part of Lassen, Tehama, Glenn, Butte, and Plumas.  I put in print so we can check my prognostications down the road.  You heard it here first!

Maybe that sounds paranoid or protective.  It’s not, I would think the same whether I lived in Crescent City, San Francisco, Susanville, Oroville, Bakersfield, or San Dimas.  After all, who would have thought in 2007 or 2008, that we would be integrating surface water use, looking at groundwater maps in syndicated newspapers, hearing of possible  fines of $25,000 for misreporting surface water diversion in the middle of nowhere…?

That’s all for now, by the end of the week we’ll be back to discussing the many aspects of the diversion of surface water.  Have a good night, everybody.

Water Management (Sharing Shortages) In California In the Short and Long Term, Part 1

san_diego_sdskyline14_smCalifornia surface water and groundwater laws are increasing controls rapidly, and the changes aren’t over yet.  The end result will likecreek_through_meadow_smallly be that shortages in San Diego will reduce how much a license holder in Modoc County can take.  It will probably take 20 years for the full effect…but 20 years is a lot faster than it used to be for farmers, ranchers, cities, and the environment.

How does this work?  It is harder to see from the surface water side.  How are the two ends of the State even connected, hydrologically?  Some diverters up around Alturas divert from the Pit River, which flows into Shasta Lake on the Sacramento River, which flows to the Delta, from which water is pumped by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  Actually, DWR diverts water released from Lake Oroville on the Feather River, but that water joins the Sacramento River at Verona, before it gets to the Delta.Central_valley_project-01_wiki

The federal water goes to the San Joaquin Valley, which is the southern end of the Great Central Valley and salad bowl of California.  The USBR Central Valley Project (CVP) coordinates to some extent with the California State Water Project (SWP).

CVP_State_water_project_wiki

 

 

 

The state water goes partly to the San Joaquin Valley, and mostly over the Tehachapi Range to the Los Angeles Basin.  Where the water goes from the CVP and SWP is carefully controlled by water rights and contracts.

 

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What we don’t see with our own eyes is the groundwater picture.  Groundwater pumping has dramatically increased during the last few years of drought, as news articles have made clear.  Nobody’s groundwater rights are affected by the new groundwater laws, but every groundwater basin either has or will soon have a local management agency of some type.  Maps of groundwater shortages will be in news articles, online, and where every citizen of California can see them.  This is part 1 of a several-part post on how in the world, or in this case the state, groundwater shortages in the extreme South will affect surface water diversions way up in the North.

Coming to a Diversion Near You – Water Board’s 2017 Measuring, Reporting Requirements

Continuing our discussion from a previous post, https://allwaterrights.com/2016/01/27/diverters-must-report-weekly-daily-or-hourly-starting-2017/, surface water diverters must have some kind of measurement system, and must report diversions more frequently.  The Water Board posted a fact sheet online that summarizes the emergency regulations:  SENATE BILL 88 AND EMERGENCY REGULATION FORMEASURING AND REPORTING ON THE DIVERSION OF WATER

Many diverters, particularly those who report less than 100 acre-feet (AF) per year, can find enough information in this blog to successfully install their own measurement devices.  100 AF per year is equivalent to a year-round, 24-7 diversion of 0.140 cubic feet per second (cfs).  If the diverter only uses water during the irrigation season, the equivalent rate is higher.  For example, a diversion for 90 days is only 1/4 of a year, so the rate is proportionately 4 times greater:  0.560 cfs.

What are some of the other regulations?  Here are a few from the January 8 version, which still has the edits shown.  The first is that diverters must “immediately” report changes in name, address, or ownership.  Sometimes, buyers of property don’t even know they have a permit or license!  Not immediately reporting something a buyer is not even aware of, puts the new owner in legal trouble:20160108_prop_regs_S_915-916

There are changes in the regs which we have already discussed, in measurement devices, reporting frequency, and who is legally qualified to install measurement devices:

20160108_prop_regs_S_933_meas_dev_Part_2_of_4

20160108_prop_regs_S_933_meas_dev_Part_3_of_4

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More on the regulations later, including additional information about how to comply with the law, stay out of trouble, and protect your right to divert water

Summary of Water Rights, Flow Measurement Posts So Far

There have been 25 posts so far, on the types of California surface water rights, flow measurement devices, and how to measure diverted flows.  You’ll see new posts once or twice a week.  Please send suggestions for post topics!  We have discussed:

  1. All Water Rights, California
  2. Read Me My Rights (How do you know if you have a water right?)
  3. Reasonable And Beneficial Use Depends On Who You Are
  4. The Smartest Water Expert In California (Chuck Rich)
  5. Riparian Rules by Chuck Rich
  6. Water Rights – Why Do They Exist? Which Kinds Are There?
  7. Water Rights And Engineers
  8. California Water Right Holders Now Required To Have Measuring Device
  9. What Is Your Place Of Use?  (Where can you legally use your right?)
  10. Places Of Use – Adjudicated (Decreed) In The State Superior Court
  11. A Place For Permits And Licenses (Places of Use)
  12. Nothing Secret About It  (This is all public information.)
  13. Quick Change of Subjects: What’s a Water Right Permit Cost?
  14. Life Of Reilly: If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It!
  15. How to Divide Up a Decreed Water Right – Part 1
  16. How to Divide Up a Decreed Water Right – Part 2
  17. Weirs – Planning, Building, Measuring Flows
  18. From weir to orifice in only an hour
  19. Chilean Water Rights at (darn near) the Driest Place on Earth
  20. Some Hope in Rain and Snow Totals
  21. Is John Stealing Water?? Orifices – Right Size and How to Measure
  22. Worried about SB 88? That’s what this blog is for! Get a device in, send a photo to the Board, record and report your diversions
  23. Flumes – installing for decades of flow measurement, Part 1
  24. Simple Weirs and Orifices, on video, and in photos!
  25. Diverters must report weekly, daily, or HOURLY starting 2017!

Worried about SB 88? That’s what this blog is for! Get a device in, send a photo to the Board, record and report your diversions

Worried about SB 88?  That’s what this blog is for!  Read here to select a flow measurement device, install it, send a photo to the Board, record your flows, and report them as required.  You will find most or all of the information you need in here.  If you need help, Rights To Water Engineering can help you meet the law quickly and at a relatively low cost.  (530) 526-0134

California Senate Bill 88 is effective as of January 1, 2016, 11 days ago as of this posting.  Here is the part that affects private or small agricultural diverters the most:

SB88_Art3_Clip

Some Hope in Rain and Snow Totals

Here is some hopeful news for California water supply – rain and snow totals for the year are at or a little above average, for the Central Valley Basin – The Sacramento-San Joaquin bowl that happens to contain one of the world’s greatest breadbaskets and salad bowls.  This information is measured and reported by the California Department of Water Resources.

Northern Sierra Precipitation so far this year:

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Southern Sierra Precipitation so far this year:

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California Snow Water Content, so far this year:

CSWC_20151227