Water Board Letters, Reducing Or Denying Additional Time / Alt. Comply Plans Being Reviewed

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?

On August 10, 2017, I sent Kathy an email asking about Alternative Compliance Plans for diversions in closed basins:

“Hi Kathy,

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?

Thank you,


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. 

Kathy Mrowka”

How To Get Water Board Forms: ADD’L TIME, Meas. Method, Alter. Compliance

Many diverters have filled out the forms due April 1, 2017 – a few days from now.  For those who have not, how can you get to the Water Board Forms you need now?  See below.  Note: for any of the 3 forms, you can still update information after you click the SUBMIT button.

UPDATE:  Revised:  For any of the 3 forms listed below, save the text from each box where you make an entry, to Word or Notepad.  If you get an error message, keep hitting the Previous and Next buttons, and/or browser forward and back buttons until text is saved, or the box blanks out and then reenter the text you saved to Notepad.  Especially when attaching files, you may have to go forward and back 10 times, and reattach files, before they’ll “stick’.  Entering “too much” text in the form fields can lock up the web page, after you have already gone on to the next, and nothing will save.  The advice is to enter less text, then add more and resubmit, and more and resubmit….

  1. REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL TIME – fill this out if you don’t have your device in, or you have not filled out the other 2 forms.  Put in lots of detail. 
  2. Measurement Method
  3. Alternative Compliance Plan

Start at the Water Right Form and Survey Submittal Portal:


Log in with the User ID and Password you used in past years, or from the last reminder letter that the Water Board sent to you:


This brings up the Water User Dashboard:


Fill out the report(s) you need, or have your qualified individual do it.  Done!  If you do not have your password, or even your login ID; go to the Electronic Water Rights Management System (eWRIMS) Report Management System (RMS) page and get the information you are missing:

Deadlines Are Here / How Can You Comply Fast?

This is a reminder, if your diversion is over 1,000 AF per year, then these deadlines apply:
January 1, 2017 – Installation of a certified flow measurement device, or devices.
April 1, 2017:
  1. REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL TIME FORM, if your device was not installed by January 1, 2017.  Go to https://public.waterboards.ca.gov/WRInfo/Account/Login? and use the User ID and password that you have been using or that the Water Board gave you in a reminder letter.
  2. Measurement Method – diversions over 100 AF/year have to be certified by a qualified professional, although the deadlines for 100 to 1,000 AF  diversions are July 1/October 1.  You can build it but it has to be certified.
  3. Alternative Compliance Plan – if your device does not comply, or standard devices will not work, but you have a reasonable measurement plan, fill this out.  It will be posted online by the Water Board, and they do not approve or evaluate it.  If nobody (state or federal agency, group, or individual) complains to the Water Board, you’re done.  If the Water Board says it’s not good enough, you may have as few as 30 days to put in a compliant measurement device to avoid fines.
  4. Supplemental Statements Of Diversion And Use for Water Rights Under Applications, Permits, and Licenses.

What Device Can You Put In Quickly, if Your Diversion Is Over 1,000 AF/Year?

          A temporary weir can be put in fast – as little as half a day.  You should be able to say it’ll last a couple of years.  It needs to be sealed up with plastic and/or dirt so it does not leak through or around.
          Whatever you do, it has to be certified…but by whom?  According to http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/diversion_use/docs/meas_method_instruct.pdf, it can be:  “… A) A California-registered Professional Engineer; or B) A California-licensed contractor authorized by the State License Board for C-57 well drilling or C-61 Limited Specialty/D-21 Machinery and Pumps; or C) A person under the supervision of a California-registered Professional Engineer and employed to install, operate, and maintain water measurement and reporting devices or methods; or D) In the case of a right or a claimed right to divert by an agency of the federal government, a hydrologist or professional engineer experienced and trained in water measurement who is employed by the federal agency in that capacity….”
          The ideal weir, whether suppressed or contracted, needs 2′ available depth upstream and downstream of the weir boards.  That’s enough for an (ideally) 1.5′ high weir, plus 0.45′ static head on top of the weir boards.  The water downstream needs to be at least 0.25′, or 3″ below the top of the weir boards to have a good nappe (air gap between the boards and falling water).
          The 0.45′ static head gives 1 cfs per foot of length of weir.  You can go higher with the special Kindsvater-Carter equations – you’ll use those to develop a rating curve.  You can drop the weir boards down a little, but not so much you drown out (submerge) the weir.  So, ideal parameters can be stretched some if you take great care to use the correct calculations.

         When it comes right down to it, 2 braced T-posts, or 2 lengths of galvanized pipe, with boards and plastic could be certified as compliant for a year. 

     Temporary Weir In Ditch

 I have done that in a pinch when I was a bureaucrat Watermaster.  The important things are the heights and depths.

          One more possibility – use an orifice in your weir box, but you would have to have 2 data collectors per measurement device.  An orifice can have as little as 0.2′, or 2.4 inches of head difference between upstream and downstream; more head is better for accuracy.  If the ditch is really flat, use a weir setup that has exposed weir boards down to the sill of the device, so you can cut a hole in a lower board for your orifice.