Some Notes From May 24 RCD / CFB SB 88 Workshop In Red Bluff

Yesterday, Thursday May 24, The Resource Conservation District of Tehama County and the Tehama County Farm Bureau held an SB 88 workshop, explaining requirements and methods for measuring and reporting on stockponds and surface water diversions.  Kirk Wilbur of California Cattlemen gave the best explanation I have ever seen on the regulations, what they mean, and how to comply.

I discussed measurement devices and water level loggers, installations, and some Board forms.  Here are some really rough notes that I will edit and add to later:

Types of water flow measurement devices

  • Weir – water level – Showed model of weir with boards
    • With Stilling Well for water level logger
  • Orifice – upstream AND downstream water level – Showed model of weir with boards, configured as orifice
  • Flume – water level – Showed 2 sheet-metal models, one for 0.9 cfs, one for 1.8 cfs
  • Pipe Meter (magnetic or propeller) – velocity
  • Acoustic Doppler – velocity
  • Rated Section, earth or lined – elevation vs. flow
  • Staff gage – elevation
  • Pressure transducer, ALL BATTERY POWERED – depth – Showed 2 types: Hobo and PMC data logger

Typical Installations

  • Weir – poured, pre-fab, conversion of gate, T-post and boards for temporary
    • Weir in ditch
    • Splitter weir
  • Orifice – can use weir box, boards, steel plate
  • Flume – poured, pre-fab, WinFlume built in concrete lined ditch
  • Pipe Meter (magnetic or propeller) – 4” – 12” bolt on existing pipe, 12” and larger, replace section of pipe
  • Acoustic Doppler
    • ditch – Sontek IQ on bottom or Side Looker at side
    • pipe – Sontek IQ, Panametric, other
  • Rated Section, earth or lined – elevation vs. flow, requires engineer/hydrologist to measure each flow and develop a rating table and curve
  • Staff gage – elevation only, goes WITH a measurement device
  • Pressure transducer – depth only, Volume WITH area-capacity / elevation storage curve, or WITH measurement device.

Strategies for Success with the Water Board

  • CALL them, get to know Kathy Mrowka, head of the Enforcement Program, or Jeff Yeazell, the public contact for non-Delta issues.
  • EMAIL them about the compliance steps you are taking.
  • INVITE THEM to your place. Showing a green staffer how a ranch or farm really works gives them context.
  • CHAIN OF COMMAND – this always works in bureaucracies! If you make it a pain for the boss, you are more likely to be heard or get leniency.
  • NEGOTIATE – laws are laws, regulations are regulations, and there are always exceptions, waivers, and so on.
  • DON’T DIG IN YOUR HEELS – Water Board folks are human and they are likely to direct their attention to someone who they are mad at.

Alternative Compliance – Water Board survey on web page

  • Not approved, denied, or evaluated
  • Will be public and can be reviewed, questioned, or criticized by anyone
  • May be “audited”, as Kathy Mrowka just told me a couple of weeks ago.
  • Estimate pond evaporation – CIMIS
  • No guarantee an ACP will not be protested
  • Varying risk of protest based on situation – higher risk factors
    • Does the stream have salmon or trout?
    • Are there other threatened, or endangered species?
    • Is the diversion or pond large?
    • Is access easy?
    • Is there a definite diversion channel?

Alternative Compliance Plans – Reasons I have used:

  • PART OF A YEAR, for a diversion or pond, if a pressure transducer needs to be removed to keep it from freezing.
  • A diversion that is not going to be used for up to 4 years, if it is blocked off with an iron plate or concrete plug.
  • Hydro plant, using power converted to flow
  • Ponds that have no gated outlets, and are not filled or drained by human action. These can only spill over uncontrolled spillway.
  • Ponds that have been in place for decades. They are part of the landscape, necessary for cattle and other ranching, and criticial for wildlife, waterfowl, and perhaps fish.
  • Ponds that are strictly for dry-land farming. If there are no diversions on a ranch, the ponds are all there is.
  • Ponds that have a low total amount of storage for the size of a ranch. For example, 6 ponds totaling 110 acre-feet for a 2,500-acre ranch.  The ponds are only used for stock and/or wildlife water and no irrigation.
  • A pond larger than 100 acre-feet, which has a creek running through it that never dries, and no water is diverted from the pond, so it is always full. Collecting data would provide zero new information – zero benefit, so any measurement cost is infinite relative to the cost.

Request For Additional Time

  • Up to 24 months
  • Need good reasons
  • Easy to file

Request For Additional Time – Reasons I have used:

  • The Water Board did not get the word out well, especially if my client never got a letter from the Board.
  • A parent who ran the ranch passed away.
  • 2016 was an extremely wet winter and spring, making access difficult until June, July, or later.
  • By mid-season, farmers and ranchers are in the middle of long days, leaving no time to put in a measurement device.
  • My client is investigating water efficiency, possibly an NRCS EQIP grant, and this would change the plan for a measurement device.

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

Recording is the other half of measuring diversions from streams, under the law per SB 88, and per the Water Board‘s 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 many diverters don’t need the data – it costs money and it doesn’t add income…unless a farm or ranch is upgrading for efficiency or to increase acreage  What you and I want in all of our purchases is the best value for the money.

We’ll look at 5 different water level logging options.  The total cost given does not include installation – that adds $200 and up.  Certification for the logger and the measurement device itself, by a professional, required for all but the smallest diversions, costs $300 and up if you have Rights To Water Engineering do the work.

  1. Vegetronix Aqua-Plumb Water Level Sensor connected with the Logger-8-USB  ($400 per diversion, less if diversions are very close to one another – with tax and shipping, about $500 per diversion)
  2. Onset Hobo U20L-04 Water Level Logger  ($600, less for multiple diversions; with tax, shipping, and data shuttle, about $1,050 for the one diversion, $1,400 for two….)
  3. Global Water WL-16  ($1,000; with with tax, shipping, and cable, about $1,450 per diversion)
  4. In-Situ Rugged Troll 200 Data Logger and Tube 300 Telemetry System ($1,200 – less for multiple diversions, plus $1,300 for each telemetered diversion.  With tax, shipping, and cable, about $1,600 per diversion, and with telemetry and add-ons, about $3,300 for one diversion)
  5. PMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31 ($1,370 per diversion; with the cable, tax, and shipping, about $1,800 per diversion)

This is a long post since it is hard to summarize something this technical so here is the bottom line:  my top recommendation is the last of five in this post – for most diverters.

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

For very small diversions, flows have to be recorded monthly or 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 levels to flows after data is downloaded.

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 5 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.   With this you will have all thelogger-8-usb
parts you need 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.  Wiith tax and shipping, this costs about $500 per diversion)

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.

 

SECOND, 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 300-square-mile area.

What I heard from colleagues is that these did not last for 10 years, and sometimes not for five years, although the device is being improved over time.  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. This cost may be reduced somewhat if the cost of a calibration device can be shared between several diverters, or several diversions.  With tax, shipping, and data shuttle, the delivered cost for all parts is about $1,050 for the one diversion, $1,400 for two….)

 

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.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 cost for a WL-16 is $1,000; with with tax, shipping, and cable, about $1,450 per diversion.

 

THE FOURTH device, the In-Situ Troll, has the advantage of out-of-the-box options for telemetry.  The Groundwater folks at the Department of Water Resources have used these and a couple recommend these for the right application.  The In-Situ

in-situ_rugged_troll_200_loggerRugged Troll 200 Data Logger and Tube 300 Telemetry System.

The Troll 200 Data Logger can run independently without telemetry, or be attached to the Tube 300R Telemetry System.  The Troll 200 is non-vented, so like the Onset Hobo data loggers mentioned above, an extra unit is needed for air pressure to correct the water level (pressure) recorded by the unit in the water.

The total unit cost for 2 Troll 200s, a Tube 300R, and accessories, is about $2,900.  This is not cheap, but it is a lot less than a full-on gaging station with satellite radio, which costs $12,000 and up for components, and over $2,000 to install in easy locations.  Telemetry is expensive, there is no way of getting around that fact.  In summary, the cost for 2 Troll 200s is $1,200 to log a diversion – each additional, nearby diversion costs only another $600.  Telemetry addes $1,300 to the cost of parts for each telemetered diversion.  With tax, shipping, and cable, using Troll 200s costs about $1,600 per diversion, and with the Tube 300R telemetry and add-ons, the total parts cost is about $3,500 for one diversion)

The Tube 300R requires a separate phone number for each water in-situ_tube_300r_telemetrylevel logger, and cell service.  In-Situ offers the option of $35/month web hosting, on its HydroVu Cloud Data Services Plan.  This cost is in addition to the Tube 300R, cell phone service, and installation.

 

THE FIFTH and final water level logger discussed here is the PMC Versaline VL4511 – 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.

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 VL4511 – 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!  In summary, the VL4511 – WLS-31 costs about $1,370 per diversion; with the cable, tax, and shipping, about $1,800 per diversion.pmc_header-editedversaline-vl4511-and-wls-31-water-level-datalogger-specs-editedThere are many, many choices for logging water levels.  These are the ones I would install, either because I, my colleagues at DWR, or larger farms or ranches have used them; or because I have checked with other users.  One of these choices can serve you well!

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How Do Shared Ditch Users Comply With SB 88?

This is a summary of how water right holders who share a ditch comply with SB 88, and report correctly to the Water Board.  So, why I am I using the Measurement Method Form Instructions below?  Because, this has the best summary that I have seen, of how a shared ditch is measured and reported.  In short:

  • every water right holder on a ditch has to sign onto the same form;
  • each person’s split, land use, and irrigated acreage must be reported;
  • the ditch manager and each person is responsible to report leaving the agreement – presumably this covers every property sale, too.

Excerpts from the Instructions:

…Examples of Measurement Methods include:  Multiple water right holders on a single surface supply may propose a collaborative measurement approach.

“…Attach maps, aerial photographs, or other renderings showing the area covered by the Method and delineating the acreage of each place of use served. For the area covered by the Method, include a list of assessor’s parcel numbers and the current owner of each parcel. Attachments can be uploaded in Section H of the online form.

…A Measurement Method based on using a shared measuring device shall include the following information:

  • Description of the methodology used to apportion the volume of water delivered to each diverter covered by the Measurement Method.
  • Description of the field or flow condition at each diverter’s delivery point, including duration of or period of water delivery, annual water use patterns, irrigated acreage, crops planted, and on-farm irrigation system.
  • Description of the consumptive use of water for each individual diverter, if available….”

“…A Measurement Method based on using a shared measuring device shall be accompanied by a written agreement signed by each diverter covered by the Measurement Method.

“…Each participant in a Measurement Method plan must sign the form or an “opt-in” form which must be retained by the Measurement Method manager. (Attach an excel spreadsheet listing of participants, as needed). Each Measurement Method participant shall acknowledge that the method will substantially comply with the measurement and monitoring requirements.

“…Each Measurement Method participant is responsible for promptly informing the Division of Water Rights or the Delta Watermaster, as appropriate, if the participant withdraws from the Method. The Method manager is responsible for promptly informing the Division of Water Rights or the Delta Watermaster, as appropriate, if the Method is modified or abandoned….

 

 

 

 

What Does A Measurement Device Evaluation And Proposal Look Like?

When you call and ask, “What do I have to do to stay out of trouble with the Water Board?”, my reply is usually, “What’s your diversion or pond like?  How much and what type of water right(s) do you have?  When can I come and take a look at it?”  We’ll figure out a time, and I’ll visit for 2 hours or however long it takes to see how your diversion works, or how your pond fills and empties, and think of a few likely solutions.

Then I will write up an evaluation and proposal.  The proposals are good enough that, if you don’t choose me to install or certify it, then you, another engineer, or a contractor knows how to get the job done can install it and keep you out of trouble.  Of course, I would like the whole job, but you do have choices!

So, what does an evaluation and proposal look like?  Here is an example, just for a single measurement device for one diversion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mccrometer Mc Mag 3000 Saddle Flow Meter, 4″ to 12″ Pipelines; Sontek IQ For Larger

 In this post I am highlighting the McCrometer Mc Mag 3000 flow meter for pipelines.  I don’t have a lot of detail here, so I will update this a couple of times before mid-February.mccrometer_mcmag_3000_webpage

Most of the flow measurement devices I have talked about in this blog are for use in ditches, and include weirs, orifimccrometer_mcmag_3000_webpage_applcnsces, and flumes.  These devices are the standard lower-cost devices that are relatively easy to install.  All of these devices require a separate, specially installed data collector to record stage (water surface elevation) so flow can be computed from the data.

What if your flow already runs through a level length of pipe?  You have many, many options from manufacturers.  There are propellor, magnetic, and acoustic meters, with integrated data collectors, that bolt up or strap on.  Most magnetic and acoustic meters require external power, but some run on batteries, and an increasing number have battery options.  Within a few hours any full pipeline that is straight and level, and has 10 to 20 pipe diameters of straight pipe upstream of the meter, and 10 pipe diameters downstream of the meter, can have one of these devices installed and operating.mccrometer_mcmag_3000_webpage_features

Note the “level and full” restriction – there are meters that can handle sloped and/or partly full pipelines, but they are more expensive.  Usually it is less expensive to insert (or add to the end) a section of level pipeline that will always be full.

What do these cost?  I have not asked about every possible pipe dmccrometer_mcmag_3000_webpage_techspecsiameter, but I think the cost range for 4″ to 12″ pipes is around $1,400 to $3,000, before tax, shipping, and installation costs.  That’s a reasonable price for a quick-to-install device that measure up to about 5 cfs in a 12″ pipe.  McCrometer even has a “how-to” video on their website, for the physical part of the installation.

What if you have a larger pipeline?  The SonTek-IQ may be a better solution – the pipe version of this flow meter and data logger can handle pipes as small as 18 inches in diameter, up to 16 feet (!).  This is an acoustic Doppler meter, rather than magnetic sensing with the McMag 3000.  There is an open channel version of the IQ, too, which installs in the bottom of a canal.

For larger or more irregular channels, Sontek-SL, which is a side-looking acoustic Doppler.  the SonTek acoustic equipment is a costlier solution for small-diameter pipes – the cost range for the SonTek equipment is $8,200 to $9,200.  For a larger pipe, canal, or natural channel up to 66 feet wide, this is a very cost-effective solution.  We’ll talk more about the SonTek equipment in later posts.

Thank God for all the rain and snow!  As of today, California is still having record rainfall and a near-record snowpack, through February 2.  Have a good night, all.

How Do You Record Diversions? Water Level Loggers, Value Vs. All Component Costs – Update

My friend Steve Beall in the far north of the state brought something to my attention, regarding my comparison of four water level loggers (five with the In-Situ Troll 200 added).  I listed only the component costs, and not the data cable, data shuttle (Hobo), software, PVC/galvanaized pipe, or installation.  Good point, and thanks for suggesting that I address all costs, Steve.  The five loggers detailed farther on down in the post are, with component costs only, data transfer, installation, and certification not included:

  1. Vegetronix Aqua-Plumb Water Level Sensor connected with the Logger-8-USB  ($400 per diversion, less if diversions are very close to one another – with tax and shipping, about $500 per diversion)
  2. Onset Hobo U20L-04 Water Level Logger  ($600, less for multiple diversions; with tax and shipping about $700)
  3. Global Water WL-16  ($1,000 per diversion, about $1,100 with tax and shipping)
  4. In-Situ Rugged Troll 200 Data Logger and Tube 300 Telemetry System ($1,200 – less for multiple diversions, plus $1,300 for each telemetered diversion…about $2,500 for one diversion; with tax and shipping about $2,800 per diversion)
  5. PMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31 ($1,370 per diversion, about $1,500 with tax and shipping)

The additional components you will need if you want to download and process your own data are:  a customized data cable (or shuttle for the Hobo), and software.  These add $250 to $350.  You also need a laptop, except for the Hobo, unless you temporarily remove the other loggers to download them on your desktop at the house.  Shipping and taxes will add $70 to $350, depending on which equipment and the location where it ships from.  Electronic tools and equipment, and various testers are useful, sometimes necessary, to chase down problems.  Extra connectors and wire might be needed – keep at least a simple kit.  Installation can cost $200 and up, depending on the difficulty, need for vandalism protection, access, and so on.  Certification by a professional, required for all but the smallest diversions, costs $300 to $500 if you have Rights To Water Engineering do the work.

*****  ORIGINAL POST, with a couple of edits:

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 most diverters don’t care about the data – it costs money and it doesn’t add income…unless a farm or ranch is upgrading for efficiency or to increase acreage  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 top recommendation is the last of five in this post – for most diverters.

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

For very small diversions, flows have to be recorded monthly or 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 levels to flows after data is downloaded.

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 5 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.

 

SECOND, 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 300-square-mile area.

What I heard from colleagues is that these did not last for 10 years, and sometimes not for five years, although the device is being improved over time.  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 device, the In-Situ Troll, has the advantage of out-of-the-box options for telemetry.  The Groundwater folks at the Department of Water Resources have used these and a couple recommend these for the right application.  The In-Situ

in-situ_rugged_troll_200_loggerRugged Troll 200 Data Logger and Tube 300 Telemetry System.

The Troll 200 Data Logger ($595) can run independently without telemetry, or be attached to the Tube 300R Telemetry System ($1,320).  The Troll 200 is non-vented, so like the Onset Hobo data loggers mentioned above, an extra unit is needed for air pressure to correct the water level (pressure) recorded by the unit in the water.  The cable and software for the Troll 200 are about $375.

The total unit cost for 2 Troll 200s, a Tube 300R, and accessories, is about $2,900.  Tax, shipping, and installation will add $600 and up, depending on location, elevation, and the length of the dirt road going in; and difficulty at the site and vandalism potential will add costs, too.  $3,500 + for telemetered water level logging is not cheap, but it is a lot less than a full-on gaging station with satellite radio, which costs $12,000 and up for components, and over $2,000 to install in easy locations.  Telemetry is expensive, there is no way of getting around that fact.

The Tube 300R requires a separate phone number for each water in-situ_tube_300r_telemetrylevel logger, and cell service.  In-Situ offers the option of $35/month web hosting, on its HydroVu Cloud Data Services Plan.  This cost is in addition to the Tube 300R, cell phone service, and installation.

 

THE FIFTH and final water level logger discussed here is the PMC Versaline VL2111 – WLS-31 Water Level Datalogger  (replaced by the same-priced, updated model:  PMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31).  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!

*****  From the update post, Update – Recommended Water Level Logger: PMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31

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.”

 

There are many, many choices for logging water levels.  These are the ones I would install, either because I, my colleagues at DWR, or larger farms or ranches have used them; or because I have checked with other users.  One of these choices can serve you well!

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Update – Who To Call At The Board?

A question I often hear is, “Hey, I got this letter/a call from the State Water Resources Control Board.  What am I supposed to do about measuring my flow?”  The main number for the Water Board is (916) 341-5300 – and these folks have much more work to do than time to do it.  Several calls may be required to reach a knowledgeable person who isn’t already talking to two telephone calls, or making three investigations in the field.  So, start with the main contact, Paul Wells, who is very knowledgeable and can get you the answers or the person you need to talk to.

By the way, Thank You to Kathy Mrowka, who has been reasonable in working with diverters who are trying to comply.  What she says often is true:  talk with her and/or others at the Water Board and you’ll likely get consideration, some more time to comply, and reduced (maybe greatly reduced) fines.

Since many calls I get are about enforcement letters, calls, or visits from the Board, it’s probably most useful to have the phone numbers and emails from Enforcement Program Staff.  Here they are, from the Water Rights Enforcement Program Web Page:

Enforcement Program Staff

Katherine Mrowka, Manager
(916) 341-5363
Kathy.Mrowka@waterboards.ca.gov
Paul Wells, Senior WRCE Specialist
(916) 323-5195
Paul.Wells@waterboards.ca.gov

 

Central Coast/So. Cal Unit San Joaquin Valley Unit
Laura Lavallee, Supervisor
(916) 341-5422
Laura.Lavallee@waterboards.ca.gov

 

Ramon Ruiz
(916) 341-5411
Ramon.Ruiz@waterboards.ca.gov

Kyle Wooldridge
(916) 323-9405
Kyle.Wooldridge@waterboards.ca.gov

Janelle Heinzler
(916) 323-9406
Janelle.Heinzler@waterboards.ca.gov

Dave LaBrie
(916) 341-5343
Dave.Labrie@waterboards.ca.gov

Brian Coats, Supervisor
(916) 341-5389
Brian.Coats@waterboards.ca.gov

 

Chuck Arnold
(916) 341-5634
Chuck.Arnold@waterboards.ca.gov

Matt Quint
(916) 341-5380
Matthew.Quint@waterboards.ca.gov

Damon Hess
(916) 341-5345
Damon.Hess@waterboards.ca.gov

Jeff Yeazell
(916) 341-5322
Jeff.Yeazell@waterboards.ca.gov

Sacramento Valley Unit North Coast Unit
Victor Vasquez, Supervisor
(916) 323-9407
Victor.Vasquez@waterboards.ca.gov

 

Michael Contreras
(916) 341-5307
Michael.Contreras@waterboards.ca.gov

Kathy Bare
(916) 327-3113
Kathy.Bare@waterboards.ca.gov

Oxcar Macias
(916) 341-5637
Oxcar.Macias@waterboards.ca.gov

Natalie Stork
(916) 322-8425
Natalie.Stork@waterboards.ca.gov

Tomas Eggers
916-327-8039
Tomas.Eggers@waterboards.ca.gov

Taro Murano, Supervisor
(916) 341-5399
Taro.Murano@waterboards.ca.gov

 

Michael Vella
(916) 327-3114
Michael.Vella@waterboards.ca.gov

Skyler Anderson
(916) 341-5355
Skyler.Anderson@waterboards

Kevin Porzio
(916) 323-9391
Kevin.Porzio@waterboards.ca.gov

Bill Rigby
(916) 341-5376
Bill.Rigby@waterboards.ca.gov

Vacant

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?

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:

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.


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