Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Published in Water Resources Bulletin 21:1 (February 1985), pp. 31–38.


Copyright © American Water Resources Association. Used by permission.


Although droughts are a frequent occurrence over much of the United States, response by state and federal government has been ineffective and poorly coordinated. Recently, several states have recognized the value of drought emergency planning and have developed plans to assist them in responding more effectively to prolonged periods of water shortage. These states have created an organizational structure to coordinate the assessment and response activities of state and federal agencies. Each state’s drought response plan is unique since each state’s water supply and management problems, and their consequent impacts, are unique. The drought response plans developed by Colorado, South Dakota, and New York are reviewed here in detail. We recommend that other states affected by frequent and severe water shortages also develop drought emergency plans. These plans will enhance state government’s ability to implement effective measures in a timely manner and, ultimately, may provide added incentive for the federal government to develop the national drought response plan called for by the General Accounting Office in 1979.