Telemetry Required On Diversions Over 20% Of Stream, or 30 CFS, or 10,000 AF+… By 2020; One Hardware Option Listed Here

According to the State Water Resources Control Board Drought Emergency Regulations, some diversions must be telemetered.   This does not applied to diverters under State or court-appointed watermaster service…their Watermaster IS their telemetry most of the time, by visits, phone, and email.

Stream Gage - Photo Credit:
Telemetered Stream Gage – Photo Credit:

 Which diversions must have telemetry, and when?  If you have read Paragraph (4) of the regulations (below), you have noticed that it is not easy to understand.  It took me 12 reads before I really figured it out…and I have read and applied more than 20 water rights court decrees over the last 12 years.

We’ll start with “when“.  Telemetering has to be installed and working by the end of 2019, to meet the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline.  That is, unless your diversion is from one of four named watersheds tributary to the Russian River…and all those folks are talking with the Water Board and know what their special deadlines are.

Now the “which“:

—–>  Anyone who diverts 10,000 AF per year or more.  What amount of diversion is this?  “It depends” is the usual answer.  Here are some examples:

  • A constant diversion of 27.8 cfs for 6 months, from one or more diversions to the same owner, and maybe to any lessor
  • A constant diversion of 21.8 cfs for 8 months, from one or more diversions to the same owner, and maybe to any lessor
  • A more real-life example is of a diversion that starts at 100% of the water right, say on April 1, and declines to 50% at the end of the season, say September 30.  For a steadily declining diversion over 6 months, the beginning rate is 37 cfs, and the diversion amount would drop to 19 cfs by the end of September.
  • Stretching out the season to 8 months, say March 1 to October 31, a diversion of 28 cfs declining steadily to 14 cfs.

—–>  Anyone who has a reservoir that can store 10,000 AF.  It does not matter if the actual diversion is zero, or 1,000 AF, the capacity makes the difference.

—–>  Anyone who diverts 30 cfs or more at ANY time, June through September.  Wouldn’t someone know if his or her diversion ever hits the 30 cfs mark?  Many times, no, especially when surplus flows early in the season may allow a diversion to take 20% to 50% more than the water right.  (Surplus flows are allowed for some water rights, not for others, that’s another subject….)

—–>  Anyone who diverts more than 1/5 of a creek or river (or maybe just 1/10 if the Board gives notice) that has a stream gage online, and who is on certain north coast streams, or Deer, Mill, or Antelope Creeks tributary to the Sacramento River, or 4 tributaries to the Russian River, …OR HAS, OR USED TO HAVE THREATENED, ENDANGERED, OR PROTECTED FISH.  That last is the big deal and encompasses most of California’s waterways below the dams!  I suspect it does not apply at this time to most streams above Shasta and Friant Dams, since those were built prior to the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973.  The main concern on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are listed spring and winter run Chinook salmon.  One or more fish species could be listed in the future on these above-dam streams, which is a potential issue just about everywhere.  Here’s a way-out-there thought – if agencies truck salmon up above the dams, are the fish still listed?

State Water Resources Control Board Resolution No. 2016-0005
To Adopt a Drought Emergency Regulation For Measuring And Reporting Water Diversions



One Way To Telemeter A Diversion

There are out-of-the-box options for telemetry – I’ll mention just one here:  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 in earlier posts, 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.