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A workaround recently used to detect water & start a splash particle system for plane pontoons on landing:
// Script created by SiRiS Asturias.
// All rights reserved. (c)2005 (Released as OpenSource 12/06/2005)
// Free for use as long as this header stays intact & follows the below guidelines.

// This work is licensed under the:
// Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.
// To view the full copy of this license, please visit:

integer a; // Idle switch
        llSetHoverHeight(0.15, TRUE, 0.5); // Make plane hover
        llSetTimerEvent(0.2); //Land Timer
        vector pos = llGetPos() - <0.0,0.0,0.2>; //Current position minus offset
        float water = llWater(<0.0,0.0,0.0>); // Water height in the current Sim
        if (a == 1) // If idle
            if (pos.z > water) // Check to see if we are off the water
                llOwnerSay("In the air");
                llSetTimerEvent(0.2); //Took off, start landing timer again
                a = 0; //Set state back to airborne
        else if (pos.z <= water) // Landed on water, trigger particles and wait to leave
                llOwnerSay("Water Landing");
                Water(); // Start splash particle system
                llSetTimerEvent(5.0); // Idle grounded timer
                a = 1; //Set state to water landing
This way the only thing it does each timer event is a water to current height comparison on the Z vector.
Could easily be modded to add only calling the llWater function per Sim change for even more efficiency per timer event.
Enjoy! SiRiSAsturias
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