Published online: Nov 05, 2012 Irrigation
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PULLMAN, Wash.-Finding ways to involve primary water users in the research process to develop scientifically sound and economically feasible public policy for water usage in the Columbia River Basin is the focus of a new, $1.5 million grant at Washington State University.
Scientists from WSU's School of the Environment and the WSU Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach have received a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to build a collaborative water modeling project in the Columbia River Basin. Assistant Professor Cailin Huyck Orr, an expert in inland waters, will lead an interdisciplinary, multi-campus team of social scientists, earth scientists, economists, civil and environmental engineers, agricultural scientists and policy experts in the Watershed Integrated Systems Dynamics Modeling (WISDM) project.

The WISDM project will use collaborative simulations informed by people who live and work in the region. The model will demonstrate how the needs and perspectives of both agricultural and urban users can promote or detract from established and sometimes conflicting goals for water management in the region. Hydrological models will take crop systems into account: producers will be able to see how switching from one crop to another can affect water availability and quality, and stakeholders can plan for future water availability under different scenarios. Additionally, the system will calculate how regional economic changes influence the decision-making of individuals and then forecast the combined effects on water use.

More details on the WISDM project are available at