Telemetered Water Monitoring Project

Introduction

Mattole Restoration Council

Why is this project needed? At present, in California we don’t have basic information about how much water is in a river, how much water is being used, when, and by whom. This lack of basic information makes it incredibly difficult to i) effectively administer existing water rights; ii) ensure sufficient water supply, particularly for small water systems; and iii) maintain ecological requirements. Having accurate water data is critically needed by state and local agencies to align interests, enhance water storage and recharge during wet-years, and ensure protections for communities and ecosystems.

In July 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board received funding to modernize the data systems in the Division of Water Rights. In part, this funding established the Updating Water Rights Data (UPWARD) Project, which will develop a modern geospatial data management system to replace older systems which contain data on streamflow, water usage, diversions, storage, rights, and fees. The new data system will also support data from telemetered water measurement devices. Developing effective telemetered data networks that are responsive to local water management conditions and existing data collection systems will be imperative.

What will this project focus on? The California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) was approached for our technical expertise and experience leading successful collaborations amongst stakeholders and agencies to serve as an independent, third-party researcher, and convener in developing telemetered water data recommendations. Recommendations will be developed to ensure that data reported to the State is done in a manner that is responsive to local water management issues and existing local needs. Developing collaborative recommendations will ensure both compliance with existing State Agency regulatory requirements, while maximizing flexibility for local reporters.

Project Implementation

This two-year project includes four main tasks, described briefly below.

Task 1. Learning from Others. The Consortium will be conducting analyses of telemetered water monitoring networks in regions within California, as well as in other states, and countries. Results of this analysis will serve as the initial basis for recommendations developed in tasks 2 and 3.

Task 2. Developing Watershed-Specific Recommendations. Working in partnership with water managers, landowners, interested parties, and others, the Consortium will work with local community members to understand their watershed, existing water management issues, and existing data collection networks and co-develop recommendations for the development of watershed-specific telemetered data networks.

Task 3. Developing Scalable Recommendations. Understanding that California is a diverse state with watersheds as varied and unique as the individuals within then, the Consortium will work with a technical advisory committee to understand how the watershed-specific recommendations might be applicable in other watersheds within the state, as well as limitations to those recommendations. This information will be used to develop more broadly scalable recommendations and/or questions to consider for the development of telemetered water data networks in watershed throughout California.

Task 4. Learning from You. The Consortium is committed to working with a range of individuals with water management experience, interests, and expertise to develop robust telemetered data recommendations that are responsive to local water management issues and existing local needs. Throughout the duration of the project, we will be conducting stakeholder outreach and engagement opportunities, including individual outreach, focus groups, and workshops. Contact us if you are interested in learning more.

Task 5. Synthesis of Findings. The Consortium will be developing and sharing a final report of our project findings. Check back here for additional details.

Venues for Participation

As outlined in task 4 above, the California Water Data Consortium is committed to working with a range of individuals to develop robust telemetered data recommendations that are responsive to local water management issues and existing local needs. Throughout the duration of the project, we will be conducting stakeholder outreach and providing engagement opportunities, including individual outreach, focus groups, and workshops. Contact Sonya Milonova (smilonova@cawaterdata.org) if you are interested in learning more.

Additional Resources