WSU launches water management survey in Okanogan, Methow, Walla Walla, Yakima basins

A large wheeled irrigation system in a fieldWashington State University scientists and collaborators will survey owners of irrigated farms this winter in the Okanogan, Methow, Walla Walla, and Yakima river basins. Insights from irrigators will help researchers develop innovations to foster water use efficiency for Northwest residents, agriculture, and the environment.

The survey will help scientists better understand farmers’ views about how water is and should be managed, why more active water markets have not developed, and how new technologies for water use might be used.

The survey is part of a larger project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and led by the State of Washington Water Research Center, which focuses on developing new technology and practices that could provide better information to support water use decisions for people and the environment.

“We hope that over time, results from this survey might improve growers’ yields and increase the value and security of water rights,” said survey lead, Joe Cook, scientist with WSU’s School of Economic Sciences.

Joe Cook
Joe Cook, Professor, WSU School of Economic Sciences.

The survey asks people about their use of weather forecasts and how they might best be improved, basic information about their operations, their views on water management policies, and their views and experience with water markets.

The survey will be conducted on behalf of the research team by Pacific Market Research during December 2020 and January 2021. The survey does not ask any questions that would put anyone’s water right at risk of relinquishment. All responses will be kept confidential.

Cook and project extension lead Georgine Yorgey, both with WSU, will host a series of virtual community meetings in December and January for community members who would like to learn more and ask questions. These meetings are currently scheduled for:

  • 8-9 a.m. Tuesday, December 8
  • 7-8 p.m. Wednesday, December 9
  • 1-2 p.m. Thursday, December 10
  • 1-2 p.m. Tuesday, January 5
  • 8-9 a.m. Thursday, January 7

Registration for the meetings is required. To register, see the survey questions in advance, or learn more about the overall project, visit the Washington Water Research Center’s survey webpage:

Eligible water rights holders and irrigation district growers will be chosen at random to receive an invitation letter to participate.  Invited participants can complete the survey on paper, or online using their personal access code at (for water rights holders) or (for irrigation district growers). Anyone who is not randomly selected to receive an invitation but would like to participate is welcome to do so and should contact Professor Cook at or by phone at (509) 335-3817.

Researchers will prepare a short report on survey results in spring 2021.  This report will be posted publicly and shared with local community leaders and water managers.  Please contact the team to receive a copy of the report when it is published.

For questions or more information on the survey, contact Joe Cook at or by phone at (509) 335-3817.