In 2008, the owners of the Cowley and Hart Ranches – two privately-owned beef cattle ranches in the Shasta Valley – initiated a cooperative study with the California Department of Fish and Game to investigate potential water efficiency improvements that would allow the ranches to sustain beef cattle production while also reducing diversions from the Little Shasta River in support of fish habitat.
As the technical contractor on this project, Davids Engineering spearheaded the formation of a plan to measure and quantify existing water uses at each ranch, and then to propose and rank specific water conservation measures. Key components of this effort included:
•Design and implementation of a monitoring program to measure diversions and losses from irrigation ditches
•A hydrogeologic investigation to assess the potential production of additional groundwater on the ranches
•Development of water balances for the ranch irrigation systems and irrigated fields
•Formulation of water conservation measures, including management practices and proposed improvements to facilities
This project resulted in a comprehensive evaluation of the ranches’ water use, and a suite of potential measures that could be implemented by the ranch owners to achieve their dual goals of increasing Little Shasta River streamflow while sustaining beef cattle production.