eWRIMS Board Water Rights Search – Part 2

In Part 1 of this discussion, we looked at the different types of water rights included in the Water Board’s eWRIMS water rights search Water_Board_eWRIMS_screenshotdatabase.  Now we’ll talk about how to narrow down your search to find just the water rights of interest.  The majority of questions people have are about their own water rights.  How can you find out what eWRIMS has about your water right?

If you pick the eWRIMS Database System link, and hit the “Accept” button at the bottom of the next page, you’ll arrive at at the Water Rights Records Search pageWater Rights Records Search screenshot - Edited.  This looks like a data entry form, and allows you to search by water right type, status, ID, county, etc., and most relevant for finding your own, by Primary Owner.  Whoops!  I sure thought it was – it is now disabled.    Maybe that’s temporary, but even a couple of weeks ago I was able to put in “California”, for example, and find the rights held by State agencies.  As a matter of fact, none of the searches I am trying right now even list any results in the “Holder Name column.

UPDATE:  Search by Primary Owner is working again as of June 29, 2016 at 8:30 A.M.  Thanks, eWRIMS folks for restoring it!

Next, try your County, Source (River name or Source Name), Entity Type, and Hayfork Creek Trinityany other information that you know.  This will give you a list of results.  For example, entering Trinity for County and Hayfork Creek for Source yields 31 results.  Without the “Holder Name” listed it is tough to tell which one is yours…unless you also know one of your IDs.  If that functionality is restored that it makes it easy.  One CAVEAT – if you or the previous owner have not updated the current owner (as the Board requires), then the person’s name will be some previous owner.  You’ll likely recognize it.

eWRIMS GIS Hayfork - EditedIf “you can’t get there from here”, then you can search by map, in the eWRIMS Web Mapping Application (GIS).  The map starts by showing all of California and you zoom in to your area.  When you zoom in far enough, you’ll see rectangular labels of various colors start to appear.  You can click on these to see the individual Application, Permit, License, or Statement of Use.  The screenshot above shows part of Hayfork Creek in Trinity County.

If you have not used eWRIMS, try it out for your and your neighbors’ water rights.  Remember, most riparian and nearly all adjudicated water rights will NOT show up here, but pre-1914, post-1914, some riparian, and some other rights will.  Next time we’ll talk about some of the information you can find on forms for the various rights and statements.

For now, happy water rights searching!

AllWaterRights Blog Moving To ShawnPike.com / eWRIMS Board Water Rights Search – Part 1

The AllWaterRights Blog is Moving!  http://www.shawnpike.com is my permanent site, and as soon as I get the formatting done all the new posts will be over there.

In the meantime, how does someone search for water rights in California?  It used to be an onerous task – and today it is only half-onerous.  🙂  Actually the Water Board gets more information every day and puts it into the Electronic Water Rights Information Management System – eWRIMS for short (pronouncedWater_Board_eWRIMS_screenshot ee-rims).  This screenshot shows the two important links.  The first is to the database, which gives text tables of results and links to some form-entered documents, and some scanned documents.  The second link goes to the geographic information system (GIS), which consists of mapped points linked to the database, on top of reference maps.

What can you find here?  In short, nearly all the post-1914 appropriative Water Rights Applications, Permits, and Licenses can be found here.  Most of the pre-1914 appropriative, and an increasing number of riparian water rights can be found here.  The 2009 water laws that increased reporting requirements and greatly increased penalties, moved most water right holders who had not been filing, to get on the train and avoid the pain.  If you search with no parameters, then the database returns a listing of all records, over 52,000 right now.eWRIMS_query_all_edited

What’s missing?  Nearly all adjudicated water rights are not found on eWRIMS.  There are thousands of rights defined in numerous Superior Court Decrees, that are not found in the database.  Statements of Use are filed for these rights, but not in a form that is easy to put into eWRIMS.  Where could you find these?  We’ll cover that in future posts.

http://www.shawnpike.com is up and running, right now with the brief front page.  More to come soon!  A good night to all.

Do Something Wrong, Instead Of Nothing!

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!

Man working in ditch CostaDisc2-129 - EditedWhat 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.

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 10 times 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.

Not Small: Water Board Fines

When California diverters think of water laws, the ESA comes to mind first .  Water Board fines, while rare, will be used more in the next few years.

StateWaterBoardHomePage

The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) are the first environmental laws that come to mind for diverters in California.  Streams with Chinook salmon or Steelhead trout are of the greatest concern, since they may be in any creek or river that eventually drains into the Pacific Ocean.  Most diverters have heard that a “take” of a federal endangered species can result in a $50,000 fine and up to a year imprisonment – and that’s possible for the death of just one fish.

However, there are penalties more directly related to the diversion of water, not just environmental laws.  The California Water Code specifies fines or jail that the State Water Board can impose, for falsely reporting a diversion, failing to file a statement, or tampering with a measurement device.  These fines have rarely been imposed in past years.  Usually diverters will take the opportunity to correct problems after the first warning.

With the Board’s increased focus on measurement devices being installed and certified, and and diversion amounts being reported much more often, the likelihood of fines being assessed goes up.

  • Willful misstatement (lying):  $1,000 plus up to 6 months in jail
  • Failing to file a statement:  $1,000 plus $500 per day
  • Accidental device malfunction or misstatement:  $250 plus $250 per day
  • Knowingly tampering or making misstatement:  $25,000 plus $1,000 per day
  • Any other violation:  $500 plus $250 per day

These can add up if the Board’s initial letters are ignored.  What’s the best strategy?  Work with the Board, seek government funding to help defray installation costs if funds are available, and make sure the end result satisfies the Board’s requirements.

California Water Code Section 5107

5107.  (a) The making of any willful misstatement pursuant to this
part is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand
dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to
exceed six months, or both.
   (b) Any person who fails to file a statement required to be filed
under this part for a diversion or use that occurs after January 1,
2009, who tampers with any measuring device, or who makes a material
misstatement pursuant to this part may be liable civilly as provided
in subdivisions (c) and (d).
   (c) Civil liability may be administratively imposed by the board
pursuant to Section 1055 in an amount not to exceed the following
amounts:
   (1) For failure to file a statement, one thousand dollars
($1,000), plus five hundred dollars ($500) per day for each
additional day on which the violation continues if the person fails
to file a statement within 30 days after the board has called the
violation to the attention of that person.
   (2) For a violation resulting from a physical malfunction of a
measuring device not caused by the person or any other unintentional
misstatement, two hundred fifty dollars ($250), plus two hundred
fifty dollars ($250) per day for each additional day on which the
measuring device continues to malfunction or the misstatement is not
corrected if the person fails to correct or repair the measuring
device or correct the misstatement within 60 days after the board has
called the malfunction or violation to the attention of that person.
   (3) For knowingly tampering with any measuring device or knowingly
making a material misstatement in a statement filed under this part,
twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), plus one thousand dollars
($1,000) for each day on which the violation continues if the person
fails to correct the violation within 30 days after the board has
called the violation to the attention of that person.
   (4) For any other violation, five hundred dollars ($500), plus two
hundred fifty dollars ($250) for each additional day on which the
violation continues if the person fails to correct the violation
within 30 days after the board has called the violation to the
attention of that person.
   (d) When an additional penalty may be imposed under subdivision
(c) for failure to correct a violation or correct or repair a
malfunctioning measuring device within a specified period after the
violation has been called to a person's attention by the board, the
board, for good cause, may provide for a longer period for correction
of the problem, and the additional penalty shall not apply if the
violation is corrected within the period specified by the board.
   (e) In determining the appropriate amount, the board shall
consider all relevant circumstances, including, but not limited to,
all of the following factors:
   (1) The extent of harm caused by the violation.
   (2) The nature and persistence of the violation.
   (3) The length of time over which the violation occurs.
   (4) Any corrective action undertaken by the violator.
   (f) All funds recovered pursuant to this section shall be
deposited in the Water Rights Fund established pursuant to Section
1550.
   (g) Remedies under this section are in addition to, and do not
supersede or limit, any other remedies, civil or criminal.

 

How Can You Keep Up With The Water Board?

SWRCB_EmailSub_Header

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good night all, and enjoy the rain and snow!

Board Updates Proposed Regs March 2

March 2, the California Water Board has updated the proposed regulations for measurement of surface water diversions.  You have to move fast to beat the comment deadline!

The notice is required to be given “…at least five working days prior to submission of a proposed emergency action to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  Then, “After the submission of the proposed emergency to OAL, OAL shall allow interested persons five calendar days to submit comments on the proposed emergency regulations as set forth in Government Code section 11349.6. This document provides the required notice.”  I haven’t called to check, but this could mean there are only 4 more days, until either March 6 (Sunday) or March 8 if “days” are M-F.

The definition of qualified persons is expanded, which will greatly help people with small diversions to comply at less cost, and sooner!  Instead of just engineers, now contractors and “professionals” may install and certify measurement devices.  The deadlines are stretched out somewhat – the biggest diversions (equivalent to 1.40 cubic feet per second 24-7-365, or 5.60 cfs for 90 days straight) and storage over 1,000 acre-feet per year have20160302_BdPropReg_AcrcyFreqQualIndvto be done by January 1, 2017 – less than 10 months.  The diversions equivalent to 0.14 – 1.40 cfs year-round, get six more months, to 7/1/2017.  The smallest diversions, 0.014 cfs year-0.14 cfs year-round, get until January 2018.  That makes sense – the Board gets the most bang-for-the-regulations with the large diversions.

In addition, the Board gives some estimated costs, which helps to plan for the expenditures.  It can be expensive, but when done right, devices can last 10, 20, even 40 years in some cases:

20160302_BdPropReg_CostRange

That’s all for now.  If someone already passed along comments that represent your water right interests, that’s great.  If not, you have a few days to make your own comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Good Is Good Enough? Water Board Required Accuracy of Your Measurement Device

How accurate does your measurement device have to be?  The Water Board gives those numbers in the Fact Sheet at http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2016/pr12016_measurement.pdf; see the bottom of this post for the excerpt on accuracy.

When talking about new weirs, orifices, flumes, mag-meters, and acoustic Doppler devices, plus or minus (+/-) 5% accuracy is expected of new, properly installed, regularly maintained, correctly operated devices.  What does that mean?  If your diversion rate is measured at 1.00 cubic feet per second (cfs), then you would expect the true value to be between 0.95 and 1.05 cfs.  If your diversion rate is 5.00 cfs, then the true value would be between 4.75 and 5.25 cfs.  The total accuracy is 10%, we just don’t know if measured values are really up to 5% less, or 5% more than calculated.

New devices might actually have better accuracy than +/- 5%.  Engineers never count on that because a bunch of factors, known and unknown, can stealthily make the accuracy worse.  Accuracy also depends on the measurer – some are better than others, some are better trained and experienced, and most take the job seriously but some do not.

Of course, accuracy gets worse as measurement devices age.  Why does this happen?  There are a number of reasons:

  • Settling, so the device is not level front to back, or side to side, or both
  • Cracking, so water leaks out, or the cracked wall is not straight (planar)
  • Wear, spalling, chipping, and other roughening in the device floor and walls
  • The ditch fills in downstream, causing submergence
  • Old boards that warp and leak
  • Installed staff gages wear, making them harder to read correctly
  • Etc.

The USBR Water Measurement Manual has 14 chapters, and all of Chapter 3 discusses accuracy in great detail.  That’s the “Bible” of water measurement so we would expect it to be, well, accurate in its discussion of accuracy.

http://www.usbr.gov/tsc/techreferences/mands/wmm/index.htm

It is not clear to me yet whether the Board’s accuracy numbers are +/- values, meaning the allowed accuracy is +/- 15% for diversions less than 100 acre-feet (AF) per year, and +/- 10% for diversions greater than 10 AF per year.  If so, that seems reasonable because that allows for some aging of measurement devices.  Otherwise, the Board would expect measurement devices to always be in new condition for diversions greater than 100 AF per year or storage greater than 200 AF per year.  That would be pretty expensive!

That brings up the subject of money – accuracy requirements hit your pocketbook.  First you have to either install or pay for a measurement device to be installed.  Hopefully the device will last 20 to 30 years, but high flows, getting walked on by cattle, freezing and thawing, settling faster than expected, and other events can wear them out faster.  The replacement cycle might be 10 years for some diversions, or even 5 if wear and tear is bad.

Board_FactSheet_MeasurementAccuracy

This post may be more than most people want to read on the subject of accuracy.  Still, it’s a lot shorter than Chapter 3 of the Water Measurement Manual!

That’s all for now, have a great rest of the week.

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

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

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

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

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

20160108_prop_regs_S_933_meas_dev_Part_2_of_4

20160108_prop_regs_S_933_meas_dev_Part_3_of_4

20160108_prop_regs_S_933_meas_dev_Part_4_of_4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160108_prop_regs_qualified_indiv

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

Summary of Water Rights, Flow Measurement Posts So Far

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

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