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Improving drought management for transboundary river basins in the United States through collaborative environmental planning

Crystal Jane Bergman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Increasing demand for water and the uncertainty of climate change have put pressure on the global water supply, presenting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century for human development. Drought is a natural hazard that further compromises water supply and increases competition among water use sectors. These challenges confirm the need for comprehensive water supply and drought planning. Planning for water, however, is often conducted within political boundaries that are not consistent with the water resource's natural boundaries, which can result in conflict. Collaborative environmental planning is a sub-discipline of planning that can address the occurrence of drought in a transboundary river basin. Little research has been done to explore drought planning for transboundary basins at the U.S. state level. This research answers the following question: How are water planning agencies using collaborative planning to improve the management of drought in transboundary basins in the U.S.? To address this question, 12 basins in the U.S. that are planning for drought were identified, and semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with basin-level drought planners. Participants were interviewed about drought management strategies, the role of collaboration and coordination in the planning process, and recommendations for drought planning in a transboundary basin based on experiences with successes and barriers. It was found that while the drought planning process is similar for all basins, each basin implements drought management strategies that are unique to their circumstances in the basin. The research also found that collaboration and coordination are necessary components of drought planning for transboundary basins. Recommendations made by interview participants based on their experiences with successes and barriers centered upon increasing collaboration and coordination, increasing communication, addressing government and legal matters, improving the quality of information, refining the planning process, and identifying and engaging stakeholders. Further research is recommended to determine the necessity of having an institution for coordination to assist with planning in a transboundary basin.

Subject Area

Natural Resource Management|Water Resource Management

Recommended Citation

Bergman, Crystal Jane, "Improving drought management for transboundary river basins in the United States through collaborative environmental planning" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618178.