Use of Landsat imagery to estimate ground-water pumpage for irrigation on the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington, 1985

Water-Resources Investigations Report 89-4157




A method for estimating ground-water pumpage for irrigation was developed for the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington. The method combines water-application rates estimated from pumpage data with acreage of irrigated crops that was mapped by using Landsat imagery. The study area consisted of Grant, Lincoln, Adams, and Franklin Counties, an area of approximately 8,900 square miles, and accounts for approximately three-fourths of the ground-water pumpage in the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington.

Data from two passes of Landsat's multispectral scanner were analyzed by using a spectral band ratioing procedure to map irrigated crops for the study area. Data from one pass of Landsat's thematic mapper, covering approximately two-thirds of the study area, also were analyzed for determining irrigated crops in the area resulting in a 6-percent improvement in accuracy over the multispectral scanner analysis.

A total of 576 annual water-application rates associated with particular crops, for the 1982 through 1985 seasons, were calculated. A regression equation was developed for estimating annual water-application rates as a function of crop type, annual precipitation, irrigation system type, and available water capacity of the soil. Crops were grouped into three water-use categories: (1) small grains, primarily wheat and barley; (2) high water-use crops consisting of corn, alfalfa, and potatoes; and (3) miscellaneous vegetable and row crops. Annual water-application rates, expressed as a depth of water, then were multiplied by irrigated area determined by Landsat to estimate a volume of water pumped for irrigation for 1985-620,000 acre-feet. An assessment of accuracy for estimating pumpage for 28 of the sites showed that total predicted pumpage was within 4 percent of the total observed pumpage.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Use of Landsat imagery to estimate ground-water pumpage for irrigation on the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington, 1985
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
iv, 38 p.