This winter, Washington State University scientists and collaborators will survey owners of irrigated farms in the Okanogan, Methow, Walla Walla and Yakima river basins, according to a news release from WSU. 

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. 

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, according to the release.

“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, a scientist with WSU’s School of Economic Sciences, in the release.

The survey asks about participants’ use of weather forecasts and how they could 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, and all responses will be kept confidential, according to the release. 

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

—Tuesday, Dec. 8, 8–9 a.m. 

—Wednesday, Dec. 9, 7–8 p.m. 

—Thursday, Dec. 10, 1–2 p.m.

—Tuesday, Jan. 5, 1–2 p.m.

—Thursday, Jan. 7, 8–9 a.m.

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. Anyone who is not randomly selected to receive an invitation but would like to participate is welcome to do so and should contact Cook by email at or by phone at (509) 335-3817. 

Researchers will prepare a short report on survey results in spring 2021. The report will be posted publicly and shared with local community leaders and water managers. A copy of the report will be available on request when it is published.

For more information on the survey, send an email to or call (509) 335-3817.

—by Jonelle Mejica