Water Rights Holders Must Measure Stream Diversions

UC Cooperative Extension Offering Water Measurement and Reporting Courses April 4

News Release

California water rights holders are required by state law to measure and report the water they divert from surface streams. For people who wish to take the water measurements themselves, the University of California Cooperative Extension is offering training to receive certification April 4 in Redding and Woodland.

At the workshop, participants will:

  • Clarify reporting requirements for ranches.
  • Understand which meters are appropriate for different situations.
  • Learn how to determine measurement equipment accuracy.
  • Develop an understanding of measurement weirs.
  • Learn how to calculate and report volume from flow data.

UC Cooperative Extension is offering a limited number of trainings in 2019. The next training will be held at Shasta College Farm and Yolo County Fairgrounds:

  • Yolo County Fairgrounds in Woodland – Register at http://cecapitolcorridor.ucanr.edu or by emailing Morgan Doran at mpdoran@ucanr.edu or calling the UCCE office in Yolo County at (530) 666-8143. Training will begin at 2 p.m. and should conclude by 5 p.m.

Background on the water diversion law

Senate Bill 88 requires that all water right holders who have previously diverted or intend to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year (riparian and pre-1914 claims), or who are authorized to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year under a permit, license or registration, to measure and report the water they divert. 

Detailed information on the regulatory requirements for measurement and reporting are available on the State Water Resources Control Board Reporting and Measurement Regulation webpage: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights. For diversion or storage greater than or equal to 100-acre feet annually, the law requires approval of installation and certification of measurement methods by an engineer, contractor, or other approved professional.

To make it easier for farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, the California Cattlemen’s Association worked with Assemblyman Frank Bigelow on a bill that would allow people to get certified to take the measurements themselves. Assembly Bill 589 became law on Jan. 1, 2018.

Until Jan. 1, 2023, this bill allows anyone who diverts water and has completed an instructional course on measurement devices and methods administered by UC Cooperative Extension, including passage of a proficiency test, to be considered qualified to install and maintain devices or implement methods of measurement. The bill requires UC Cooperative Extension and the water board to jointly develop the curriculum for the course and the proficiency test.

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Farm Water Coalition Shames State Water Resources     

Farm Water Coalition Shames SWRCB Over Proposal 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

The California Farm Water Coalition (Coalition) was formed in 1989 to increase public awareness of agriculture’s efficient use of water and to promote the industry’s environmental sensitivity regarding water.

Mike Wade, executive director of the Sacramento-based Coalition, has major concerns about the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)‘s proposal of taking 40% of the water from many irrigation districts along three rivers that flow into the San Joaquin River to protect an endangered fish. The SWRCB proposes to divert water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced Rivers to increase flows in the Sacramento Delta.

Mike Wade, executive director, California Farm Water Coalition
Mike Wade, executive director, California Farm Water Coalition

Wade explained, “The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is important for the United States, and we want to see it work. However, it’s not working. It’s not helping fish, and it’s hurting communities.” But Wade wants to revise the ESA “in how we deal with some of the species management issues.”

Wade said SWRCB is doubling down on the same tired, old strategy that is not going to work any more now than it has in the past. “What happened in the past isn’t helping salmon. What’s happened in the past isn’t helping the delta smelt. You’d think someone would get a clue that maybe other things are in play, there are other factors that need to be addressed.”

The State Water Resources Control Board estimated the proposed 40% diversion of river flow would decrease agricultural economic output by 64 million or 2.5% of the baseline average for the region.

Ag officials warn that if the proposal goes through it would force growers in the area to use more groundwater—which they have largely avoided because the Turlock Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District historically met the irrigation need of local farms.

This is the only agricultural area in the Central Valley that does not have critical overdraft problems. If the state takes away 40% of water available to growers, it could lead to a critical overdraft issue there as well.

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A Rant on the War for Water — or perhaps just a restatement of the obvious

Commentary by Laurie Greene, Editor

The War for Water has become more complex, fractious, and dire.

 

The battles are marked by staggering amounts of purchased-but-undelivered water supplies; broken contract obligations;

 

local water districts scrambling to find any source of water at any price; water theft; water diversion; water re-diversion; fishery restoration;

 

rapidly escalating overdraft and land subsidence conditions; lack of river improvements; reservoirs drying and dying; an epidemic of well drilling;

 

aging water infrastructure; farmers resorting to water sales profits instead of crop profits; fallowed fields;

 

threatened species, pitting environmental conservationists against farmer environmentalists and humans versus fish;

 

fish trucking; climate change confusion and unpreparedness; deals for more water imports; decisions for no Delta exports; water supply runoff;

 

compromised and halted agricultural research; approvals, denials, exceptions. . .

Drought - No Water Logo

 

We are employing politicians, lawyers, government agencies, scientists, and institutions of education to discuss and solve our water crisis. . .

 

and money has been thrown at farmers, food banks, and emergency services;

 

but we are not investing in, creating, and aggressively launching new water storage, balanced and effective environmental solutions for threatened species;

 

improved sewage disposal; enforced urban water conservation; modern water conveyance and infrastructure; groundwater renewal; wide-use of desalination technology.

 

We face curtailed critical agricultural research; unemployment; increased crime–according to some; increased health costs; declining water quality; disappearing snowpack;

 

school and business shutdowns; mortgage forfeiture; homelessness;

 

community failures; permanent loss of farm laborers; food shortages; increased stress on food banks with dwindling food supplies;

 

increased food insecurity and exposure to imported food safety risks; raised food and water prices; possible loss of domestic and foreign markets; threatened economies—

 

‘not to mention sheer human stress, panic, and grief.

 

Yet, we are urging, pleading, debating, meeting, emailing, tweeting, phoning, rallying, regulating, appealing, suing, petitioning, curtailing, strategizing; lobbying . . .

 

What academic or worldly discipline – geography, sociology, biology, chemistry, economics, politics, psychology, medicine – or realm of life – will NOT be affected?

 

Who does not need food, water, air, and an income?

 

At what point will we hit bottom, having suffered so much that we are finally forced to compromise and reach a survivable compromised existence?

 

At that point, will it even be possible?

 

 

Sources and Inspiration:

Friant Waterline, “Today’s River And Salmon”, http://friantwaterline.org/todays-river-and-salmon/

Merced Sun-Star, “Merced Irrigation District Seals Deal with State for More Irrigation Water”, mercedsunstar.com/2014/04/23/3615393/mid-seals-deal-with-state-for.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1

Western Farm Press, “Drought Chokes Research Efforts in California”, http://westernfarmpress.com/irrigation/drought-chokes-ag-research-efforts-california?page=5

Maven’s Notebook, in general, http://mavensnotebook.com

Salt, “Fields And Farm Jobs Dry Up With California’s Worsening Drought”, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/04/22/303726931/fields-and-farm-jobs-dry-up-with-californias-worsening-drought

State Water Resources Control Board; ACWA eNews; ACWA; Western United Dairymen

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