Date of this Version
Water Resources Management https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-022-03390-z
Despite the devastating impacts of droughts, the United States lacks a national drought plan. This leaves states to address droughts in water, hazard, and stand-alone plans which are designed to reduce drought vulnerability and to prepare government, industry, and society to cope with the impacts. Yet, there is limited empirical research that evaluates the comprehensiveness of these plans, specifically in terms of whether they include preparedness and mitigation measures or triggers for action and response. To fill this gap, this study’s first aim was to establish an evaluation framework based on principles from the drought mitigation literature. The study then evaluated 171 state-level plans with the framework, and simultaneously collected interview data to contextualize the results. In a final step, the scores were employed in a statistical analysis of whether states with higher physical exposure to drought have more comprehensive planning. The study finds states that have experienced more frequent and severe drought plan more comprehensively, suggesting that the occurrence of drought may be an intrinsic driver for planning. The study concludes that planning and preparing for droughts is a necessary but complex undertaking requiring interdisciplinary, interagency efforts that the U.S.’ decentralized, federalist political system is suited to address. If generalization is warranted, the results suggest that the physical occurrence of drought can act as a policy catalyst.