Managing Our Water photo identifier

Managing our Water

By the Numbers – How Water Supports Washington Jobs

This page is being maintained as an archive of past information and will not be updated.

Perhaps nothing is as critical in shaping the quality of life in Washington state than securing the future of our water resources. In one way or another, everything we value depends on access to clean water.

Managing Washington’s water supply is good business, too.

Enhancing Community Development

  • A water right can allow for development of residential land, essentially doubling typical property values
    • East side of Washington: 72 percent increase in value.
    • West side of Washington: 117 percent increase in value.
    • Conservative estimate of future residential value of water from Lake Roosevelt storage release: 25,000 acre-feet of municipal water could facilitate future residential development in the area worth $3.7 billion, increasing the property tax base by providing water for up to 62,500 homes.
  • Conservative estimate value of water in NE Washington from Sullivan Lake project:
    • 5,000 acre-feet of municipal water could facilitate future residential development in the area worth $754 million, increasing the property tax base by providing water for up to 12,500 homes.
    • 5,000 acre-feet of agricultural water used for crop irrigation could generate $2.1 million in additional direct value each year.

Enhancing Farms and Agriculture

  • WSU estimates that a water right in agriculture can increase property values fivefold to tenfold.
  • Agriculture is Washington’s leading employer, and it depends on a reliable water supply. Washington’s 1.7 million acres of irrigated crop land (39% of farms) generate $4.8 billion in crops sold in a year. Half or more of that crop value is attributable to the water available from irrigation.
  • It’s conservatively estimated that agricultural property value will increase $50 million to $100 million from development of 1,785 acres of new vineyards in the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area through Ecology’s Office of Columbia River. (The project also will add 20,000 + acre-feet of instream flow to benefit fish and fisheries in the lower Yakima River.)

Fish-Bearing Waters are a Vital Part of our Economy

Water for fish also plays an important part in Washington’s economy. For example, Washington’s freshwater fish have an annual economic value of $1.3 billion.

  • Washington’s commercial fishery for salmon and other anadromous fish generates $31 million each year in direct revenue to harvesters and processors. It employs 612 direct employees harvesting and processing anadromous fish, generating $28 million in personal income each year.
  • Angler expenditures in Washington directly and indirectly support more than 12,000 jobs, generating $424 million in personal income each year.


Analysis by Washington Department of Ecology natural resources economics section, June 2010

Sources: