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Blog Home » Your Meter, Your Champion: Protecting Your Water Rights in California

Your Meter, Your Champion: Protecting Your Water Rights in California

California may be celebrating a recent departure from the longstanding drought, but there’s certainly no departure from water conservation and sustainability efforts. In fact, ever since the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) went into effect in 2014, there’s been a focus on regulatory oversight on water allocation, usage, and reporting on a local level, through groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs).

Aerial image of California farm irrigation.

California agriculture and irrigation.


Automating Data Collection and Water Management

The water meter is first and foremost, an irrigation management tool, not a regulatory tool. Farmers and growers have the opportunity to install a flow meter at the water source to manage the exact amount of water they’re applying to their crops, minimizing problems such as overwatering and leaching nutrients from the soil. Growers cannot manage what they aren’t measuring, and accurate flow meters provide valuable flow data that gives growers the information they need to manage their farming operations efficiently and effectively – while complying with water allotments.

One concern of using flow meters in place of satellite imaging is the need for manual meter checks. While mechanical flow meter registers are still an option for many growers, other options exist to automate flow data collection. McCrometer offers the digital FlowCom™ meter register and the FlowConnect™ telemetry unit for the Mc®Propeller and Water Specialties® propeller flow meters, to collect and transmit flow data remotely for timely water management decisions.

Outdoors image of a man bent over red pipeline and open telemetry unit.

A FlowConnect™ unit being installed atop an McPropeller saddle-style meter.


For electromagnetic (mag) flow meters, another popular measurement technology, McCrometer offers the ProComm Go™ electronics which offer a more sophisticated suite of automation features to help technologically-savvy growers integrate their flow data into their overarching management system.

Recently launched to the agriculture market is SmartTrax™, the remote telemetry unit (RTU) that is compatible with all meters on the market (including other manufacturers’ products). This flexible, wireless telemetry unit connects to pulse-enabled or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) capable meters to read and transmit the flow data to an app for easy, on-the-go flow management.

Accurate, Reliable Flow Data

In March of 2022 the California Water Institute (CWI) on behalf of the Kaweah Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (KSB-GSAs) conducted testing of water meters to gauge accuracy and functionality to measure pump discharges from groundwater wells, in anticipated future use of meters to meet SGMA objectives. The KSB-GSAs are currently using evapotranspiration data collected by satellite imagery but anticipate needing metering data to assist in future decision-making.

Ten water meters were evaluated in the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) at Fresno State University and assessed based on a variety of criteria such as cost of ownership, power and configuration options, and accuracy testing including non-standard installations.

The analysis concluded that McCrometer’s full-bore ag mag performed extremely well on the accuracy testing, despite the Dura Mag’s lack of power supply options and robust electronic interface options compared to other meters, which are now standard options with the ProComm Go™ converter now offered on all McCrometer electromagnetic meters for agriculture.

The study reports, “…the McCrometer Dura Mag at 2 and 8 feet per second…displayed relatively small errors when installed with the check valve upstream and downstream of the water meter.”

Additionally, each of the meters in the study were tested at 11 different discharge rates for the minimum time required for the meter to stabilize the discharge measurement. The meter results were compared to the discharge rate measured by CIT’s venturi master meter. While all the meters tested fell under a ±5% error, “the McCrometer Dura Mag exhibited the lowest error of 0.34%. The discharge rates produced velocities through the meters that ranged from 1 foot per second to 12 feet per second. The general operating range for velocities in pressure pipe systems is from 3 to 8 feet per second.”

While the meters provided to the CWI for this study were manufactured prior to 2019 and did not offer the full range of system integration and user interface options that current meter electronics do, the meter’s quality of manufacturing shines through. Despite flow disturbances and less than ideal meter installation, the Dura Mag’s accuracy and repeatability outpaces the other meters in the study.

How do you think the Dura Mag would fare today when tested with the ProComm Go electronics and the SmartTrax telemetry unit?

Ken Quandt, Market Development Manager for McCrometer, weighs in.

“Conducting the same analysis on our current meters, I believe the accuracy would be just as good as in the original study, and the Dura Mag would rank even higher due to the addition of the ProComm Go. The more sophisticated output and power options such as AC, DC, and battery-only options make the meter an even more flexible solution,” Quandt comments.

“The addition of SmartTrax would also improve the ranking of the McCrometer telemetry equipment, since integrated telemetry was rated both positively and negatively – but now, we offer both options. The FlowConnect and SmartTrax come in both external and integrated options, a major benefit for irrigators and growers.”


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