Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the American Water Resources Association 33:5 (October 1997), pp. 961–968.


Copyright © 1997 American Water Resources Association. Used by permission.


Drought has been a common feature in the United States during the past decade and has resulted in significant economic, social, and environmental impacts in virtually all parts of the nation. The purpose of this paper is two fold. First, the status of state drought planning is discussed to illustrate the significant increase in the number of states that have prepared response plans—from three states in 1982 to 27 in 1997. In addition, six states are now in various stages of plan development. Second, mitigative actions implemented by states in response to the series of severe drought years since 1986 are summarized. This information was obtained through a survey of states. The study concludes that states have made significant progress in addressing drought-related issues and concerns through the planning process. However, existing plans are still largely reactive in nature, treating drought in an emergency response mode. Mitigative actions adopted by states provide a unique archive that may be transferable to other states. Incorporating these actions into a more anticipatory, risk management approach to drought management will help states move away from the traditional crisis management approach.