State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009UT130B
Title: Increasing Data Accuracy, Reliability, Accessibility, and Understandability to Improve Basin-Wide Water Resources Decision Making
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: UT1
Focus Categories: Education, Management and Planning, Water Quantity
Keywords: Flow Measurement, Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems
Principal Investigators: Tullis, Blake P.; Barfuss, Steven L.; McKee, Mac (Utah State University); Merkley, Gary P.
Federal Funds: $ 32,486
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 54,959
Abstract: To effectively manage any resource, the ability to quantify that resource, accurately distribute it, and evaluate impact or productivity is essential. Water resources are no different. Most irrigation companies and water users groups have the infrastructure in place to measure and report flow rates in canals and rivers (typically downstream of storage reservoirs). In some cases, however, weir calibrations can be inaccurate due to an incorrect reference datum, effective shorting of weir heights due to upstream sedimentation or other maintenance issues. Other issues may be due to that fact that those who perform periodic field calibrations do not understand operational procedures for the measurement equipment or they do not have access to or the ability to update the head-discharge relationships in the computer that logs the data. In other cases, telemetry systems may transmit inaccurate data or no data at all if the batteries providing power to the system are sufficiently depleted of charge. In short, in addition to having a data collection and transmission system in place, a minimum amount of maintenance, and education of users is required to insure the accuracy of the data.

With an accurate flow measurement/distribution system in place, additional information such as local soil-moisture content and evapo-transpiration rates can further assist in determining appropriate water application rates and frequencies. The process of correlating water demand, supply, and productivity (total crop yield, crop yield per unit of applied water, crop quality, and others) are essential for maximizing our water resource potential.

With USGS 104B and Utah Water Research Laboratory funding, the flow measurement structures of one distribution system in Northern Utah (Summit Creek Distribution System, Smithfield, UT) were evaluated. The flow measurement problems found included a submerged flume, improperly located staff gages, out-of-level flume structures, and poor approach flow conditions. Where appropriate, staff gage positions were adjusted, field calibrations were provided, recommendations were made to install a removable weir in the flume that operates under submerged conditions for measuring base flow conditions, and the data reporting system was automated using telemetry, making the real-time data available online. The water manager (water master) was included in the problem discovery and solution process.

If granted the USGS 104B funding for 2009, additional water distribution systems will be inspected and evaluated for flow measurement problems. Where possible, we will help the water manager in solving the flow measurement deficiencies, provide field calibration data, and automate the data reporting system via telemetry. The State of Utah will assist with the telemetry portion of the project.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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