Irrigation Organizations

Irrigation Organizations Survey

The Survey of Irrigation Organizations, conducted by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), will provide a greater understanding of local irrigation decisions and their impact on drought resilience. Over the last several decades, many aspects of local water management institutions have changed, including the number and size of irrigation organizations, the pricing structures used for cost recovery and the reliance on new sources of water quantity data, with an expanded emphasis on groundwater management. Increasing demands on the Nation’s limited water resources has heightened the need for information on local management decisions and infrastructure systems that can improve agricultural drought response. Limited data on how water-supply management entities at the local scale respond to water scarcity is an impediment to water-related research and analysis and knowledge transfer among local water managers in particular.

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Program Content

The Survey of Irrigation Organizations is intended to provide a nationally representative assessment of irrigation water-delivery entities and groundwater management districts serving the U.S. irrigated sector. The dataset will include information on organization structure, irrigation infrastructure and system management practices, and water use by source, with a special emphasis on institutional measures and conservation initiatives that enhance drought resilience and long-term water-supply management.


ERS has sought external input from stakeholders on scope and details of the survey as well as input on how this survey can best be developed as a resource for regional water managers and irrigation organizations.

Related Programs

As a research resource, the survey will complement the existing farm-level Irrigation and Water Management Survey (formerly called the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey), a follow-on survey to the USDA Census of Agriculture. The new Survey of Irrigation Organizations and supporting geodatabase will support analysis on land use, irrigation, conservation and risk management. Survey findings and related research should provide local water managers with useful information to effectively plan for and manage during drought conditions, and inform the analysis of federal and state water conservation and infrastructure investment activities at NRCS, USGS, Bureau of Reclamation, and other agencies with water resource management and data responsibilities.

Last Modified: 04/17/2024