WSU Extension, in partnership with WSU’s world class researchers, brings you this wealth of water related information on many aspects of fresh and salt water in Washington state.
Washington Water Rights
Waters of the state belong to the public and can’t be owned by any one individual or group. Instead, a person or group may be granted a right to use a volume of water, for a defined purpose, in a specific place.
Do you need a water right?
- You will need a water right if you plan to use any amount of surface water (from a river, stream, spring, or lake) for any purpose.
- You will need a water right if you plan to use groundwater (from a well) for any use, with these exceptions:
- single or group domestic uses of less than 5,000 gallons per day
- industrial uses of less than 5,000 gallons per day
- irrigation of lawn or non-commercial garden, a half-acre or less in size
- stock water
If you receive your water from a utility, you don’t need a water right as long as your provider has the necessary rights.
How to find out if property has a water right:
- FAQ Assessing Your Water Right – WA Dept of Ecology
- FAQ Water Right Claims – WA Dept of Ecology
- Visit the EPA’s map-based water right database: Water Resources Explorer
- Request information on an existing water right
- Read the Landowner’s Guide to Washington Water Rights
Water Conservation Resources
- Water Conservation – USDA. NAL. Water and Agriculture Information Center. A collection of bibliographies and links to information about water conservation as related to agriculture.
- Water Quality, Conservation, Drought and Irrigation – National Center for Appropriate Technology. ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. Publications and other resources on water use, soil moisture management, water quality and water conservation.
- Smart Water Use on Your Farm or Ranch – USDA. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. A bulletin available for purchase and online access on the topic of successful water management systems for farmers and ranchers.
- WaterSense – Environmental Protection Agency. Provides information about water use efficiency and the WaterSense product labeling program for homeowners and businesses including irrigation technology.
- 5 Things to Know Before You Irrigate – Clallam County Conservation District’s comprehensive guide to knowing the ins and outs of irrigating in Clallam County.
- WSU Irrigation Calculator in the Pacific Northwest – These irrigation calculators will help compute your irrigation needs based on your growing practices, types of soil, and vegetation.
- WSU Irrigation Scheduling Tool – Water stress can affect fruit size and quality. The irrigation scheduler from AgWeatherNet is a handy tool which can help you match irrigation applications to tree fruit needs. It uses your soil type and tree fruit evapotranspiration rates based on your local weather station to estimate water use.
- WSU Drought Publications relating to Irrigation – Browse WSU publications specific to drought & irrigation.
- Irrigation in the Pacific Northwest – This website was developed by the extension irrigation specialists from the land grant universities of the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
WSU Research & Programming
The overall goal of the BioEarth program is to develop a regional-scale Earth Systems Model (EaSM) that is an integration of existing process-based models for the atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic, and human systems in order to understand the interactions between inter-annual to decadal-scale climate variability and carbon-nitrogen-water dynamics over the Pacific Northwest.
CSANR’s Climate Change and Agriculture Resources:
WSU Climate Change Pages
Climate Friendly Farming Project:
Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) established the Climate Friendly Farming Project (CFF) in 2003 with a grant of $3.75 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to better understand carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural systems and to establish long-term agricultural research projects focused on improving the resiliency of agriculture to a changing climate. The early focus of the project was on dryland wheat, irrigated vegetable and dairy production systems. The CFF Project Team received USDA’s National Institutes for Food & Agriculture (NIFA) Partnership Award for Innovative Program Models in 2009.
Weather Stations Webinar: A Tool for Farmers
This introductory webinar showcases WSU AgWeatherNet, a free online tool that provides access to current and historical weather data to help Washington growers and citizens understand and prepare for the challenges and changes that weather brings. Horticultural uses for AgWeatherNet include growing degree days, disease models, humidity, rainfall, and tracking life cycles of pests and diseases.
WSU AgWeatherNet Stations
Access the USDA Northwest Climate Hub monthly newsletter: