Solving Diverters' Headaches To Provide Peace Of Mind And Help Stay Out Of Trouble
Category: Report Diversions
Most diversions of surface water in California must be reported to the State Water Resources Control Board. The fines can be considerable so protect your pocketbook by doing it right. Avoid hassle from the Water Board, which takes up your time and cuts into peaceful sleep.
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!
Do something wrong, rather than nothing at all. Have you ever heard that before? I have heard it from Army veteran friends, a boss, even an elder of a church.
What it means to you and me is, if action is necessary, do something, maybe ANYthing, rather than freezing in place or ignoring a problem. This is obvious when you see a tornado 5 miles away, for example; either drive away from it if you are in a car, or take shelter if you are on foot. If you have a plumbing leak in the house and no parts to replace broken pipe, then put a bucket under it, or turn off the valve, and call a plumber. All of us have seen a TV show (or maybe had it happen to us) where a bad guy or an enemy pointed a rifle and said, “Don’t move.”. What do we all say to the TV? “Don’t just stand there, run!”. Doing nothing is a much worse choice!
What about water rights – how does doing something wrong help? Everyone knows by now that surface water diverters need measurement devices, so put in a weir box and boards and try to measure flow if the Water Board, your watermaster, or your neighbor is promising painful consequences. Even stick boards in a ditch and seal the sides with gravel – something to take positive action to reduce future pain.
Take a look at the blog posts here. There is enough information and how-to directions, that you might be able to do it right! Check out these posts:
There is a philosophy based in law and a lot of experience, that says don’t put any controls on yourself until the court or government makes you. Why remodel your house to accommodate the wiring or plumbing, if you aren’t selling the house and everything works okay? Who would put a lot of money into an old truck to make it pass smog, if it just might pass a smog check the next time it has to be done? What farmer would change how he irrigates or ranches if everything still operates and the bank will keep making operating loans?
Surface water and groundwater are getting 1050times the attention they were prior to 2009. If the Water Board, or California Fish and Wildlife, or any other agency comes along, do something, anything, to comply sooner, even if it’s not the ultimate solution. Two posts ago, bureaucrats were discussed – they are still human beings and most people appreciate some effort to “get with the program”.
Be proactive, take some inexpensive action, educate yourself for free with some time in the Internet. Even a small, less-than-perfect improvement in your measurement device, flow and water use record keeping, diversion practices, or acreening, can pay back a lot more when you have to deal with agencies, a court, or an angry neighbor in the future.
Many people have asked aboutAlternative CompliancePlans filed with theWater Board. Have any been approved? Do I have any feedback regarding the ones I filed? What will work, and what won’t?
In short, I have heard nothing from the Water Board, so I have no answers. However, the Water Board has started posting them online. See the screenshot below – I erased the water right holders’ names, you can see them and download them at the web page.
Many diverters or pond owners are getting letters like the one shown below, reducing or denying a Request For Additional Time. The letter looks threatening, because that is how letters from regulatory agencies (bureaucracies) have to look. Keep in mind that the Water Board won’t start issuing fines the day after the deadline. Usually what happens next is a 30-day letter to cease and desist, or correct a deficiency, or face fines of $500 per day.
What should you do?
Call and email Jeff Yeazell to let him know what progress you have made, and what your plan is. If something terrible happened and you let the Water Board know, they can change the deadline.
I have a client whose water rights are all in one closed basin. This owner owns all the lands where the water flows, either naturally, or when diverted from streams. The end effect is, whether the diverter actually diverts or not, all the water ends up only on his land.
There are reservoirs involved. The water rights could be in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 AF.
The argument is, since nobody else is or could be affected, there is no benefit to the State of measuring this water.
What are your thoughts on Alternative Compliance Plan for every water right on the ranch? Would the Water Board put this on the bottom of the pile for places to look at, or toward the top?
Kathy’s answer was:
“Hi Shawn –
The measurement regulation does not have an exception from measurement based on location of the water source. Any alternative compliance plan would need to identify the proposed measurement frequency and proposed measurement methodology. It would also need to include an explanation and substantiating documentation of alternative compliance. Absent substantiation of the specific basis for reduced performance standards, the plan must state how compliance with the measurement regulation will be achieved. You ask for my thoughts on submitting an alternative compliance plan for each of the ranch water rights. You should only submit plans which satisfy the regulatory standards.
You ask whether the Division would put this on the bottom of the pile of items to look at. Jeff and I have been actively looking at the alternative compliance plans submitted thus far. We coordinate our actions with Lily. We are actively evaluating the plans because we feel an obligation to let people know how they have done with their proposals.
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
Weir – poured, pre-fab, conversion of gate, T-post and boards for temporary
Weir in ditch
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
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.
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.
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)
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….)
Global Water WL-16 ($1,000; with with tax, shipping, and cable, about $1,450 per diversion)
In-Situ Rugged Troll 200 Data Loggerand 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)
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 isthe bottom line: my top recommendation is the last of five in this post – for most diverters.
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.
For 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.
We 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 retired 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 theVegetronixAqua-PlumbWater Level Sensor connected with theLogger-8-USB. Together these are $340, which is
the least cost of anything that I have seen. With this you will have all the
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 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, theOnset Hobo U20L-04 Water Level Loggeris $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 download 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 a 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 theGlobal 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.
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-16 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
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 2Troll 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 theTube 300Rtelemetry 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 level 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 thePMC Versaline VL4511 – WLS-31Water 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-31is 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.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!
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….“