1997-98 Work Plan
of the Western Drought Coordination Council
2. Council Mission and Objectives
3. Council Structure
4. Steering Group
5. Working Groups
5.5 Preparedness and Mitigation Working Group
5.6 Monitoring, Assessment, and Prediction Working Group
5.7 Response Working Group
5.8 Communications Working Group
6. Council Administration
In February, 1997 the "Memorandum of Understanding Regarding the
Future Management of Drought in the West" (MOU) was signed by the Western
Governors' Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department
of the Interior, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Federal
Emergency Management Agency. The purpose of the MOU is to establish a more
comprehensive, integrated and expeditious response to drought emergencies,
and to cooperatively plan for future droughts a recurrent feature of the
climate of the West. Through the MOU, the signatories committed to establish
a Western Drought Coordination Council (WDCC) which will serve to coordinate
drought planning and response in the West.
2.0 Council Mission and Objectives
2.1 Mission Statement
Through a balanced, open, and inclusive process, develop and implement
model drought policies and management/mitigation measures that reduce impacts
associated with droughts, and that promote economic and environmental sustainability
in the West.
2.2 Council Objectives:
- Encourage and help western states, local governments, and tribes to
develop and implement drought preparedness and mitigation programs and
plans by establishing and maintaining a clearinghouse of information on
techniques and procedures for drought monitoring and prediction, response,
planning, and mitigation.
- Identify and make recommendations on drought policy issues, legislation,
and program implementation at the state, regional, and national levels.
- Improve information exchange and coordination at all levels of government
by facilitating the development and implementation of an efficient drought
monitoring and information delivery system.
- Heighten awareness and understanding of regional drought management
and policy issues and promote the efficient use of water in the West.
3.0 Council Structure
3.1 Council Composition
The Western Drought Coordination Council (Council) shall be comprised
of the Secretary of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the Secretary of
the U. S. Department of the Interior, the Administrator of the U. S. Small
Business Administration, and the Director of the Federal Emergency Management
Agency; three governors representing the Western Governors' Association;
three tribal leaders; and one person representing elected local government
officials. [The WGA Drought Task Force has discussed adding another local
government official to the Council. A decision on this issue needs to be
made by the Council.] In addition, any federal department (represented by
the secretary) or federal independent agency (represented by the director
or administrator) that becomes a signatory to the MOU may be granted membership
to the Council. A Council member may designate a senior staff member with
responsibility for drought issues within their respective department, agency,
state, tribe, or local government to represent the member on the Council.
All Council members must have signed the MOU.
3.2 Council Leadership
The Council shall be led by two co-chairs. One co-chair shall be the
Secretary of the U. S. Department of Agriculture (or the Secretary's designee)
acting in the role of lead federal agency. One co-chair shall be a governor
(or the governor's designee) who shall be named by the Chair of the Western
3.3 Adding Council Members
Through a letter from the co-chairs, the Council may invite the secretary
or administrator of any federal department or independent federal agency
or a non-federal entity that has programs related to drought within their
jurisdiction to become a signatory of the MOU and a member of the Council.
Following receipt of the letter from the co-chairs and signing the MOU,
the invitee shall become a full member of the Council.
3.4 Council Functions
The functions of the Council shall include overseeing the development,
adoption, and implementation of an annual Work Plan. The Council will also
establish and appoint members to the Steering Group and Working Groups.
The Council shall prepare, on an annual basis, a statement of accomplishments.
3.5 Council Procedures
The work of the Council will be done by consensus. All meetings of the
Council shall be open to the public. The Council shall meet at least once
4.0 Steering Group
4.2 Steering Group Composition
The Steering Group shall be comprised of the following:
- one senior policy advisor/staff representing each of the Council members;
- the co-chairs of each Working Group.
4.2 Steering Group Leadership
The Steering Group shall be led by two co-chairs, one co-chair named
by each of the Council Co- Chairs.
4.3 Steering Group Functions
The Steering Group's functions include:
- securing resources to carry out the work of the Council;
- coordinating the development, revision, and implementation of the annual
Work Plan by the Working Groups;
- organizing subgroups as necessary to carry out the day-to-day activities
of the Council;
- acting as liaison between the Council and the Working Groups; and
- providing an annual report to the Council regarding progress in implementing
the Work Plan.
4.4 Steering Group Procedures
The work of the Steering Group will be done by consensus. The Steering
Group will meet periodically, as necessary, throughout the year to coordinate
Working Group activities, and will meet at least once prior to the annual
Council meeting to finalize its annual report to the Council. All meetings
of the Steering Group shall be open to the public.
5.0 Working Groups
5.1 Working Groups
Working Groups shall be established by the Council.
5.2 Working Groups' Composition
Any person or organization which has a direct interest in, or expertise
regarding, drought-related issues shall be welcome to participate in the
Council's Working Groups.
5.3 Working Groups' Leadership
The Working Groups shall be led by two co-chairs, one co-chair named
by each of the Council Co-Chairs.
5.4 Working Groups' Functions
During the first year, there will be four Working Groups formed under
the Council to develop and make recommendations to the Council through the
Steering Group for implementation in accordance with the Work Plan. These
groups and the specific action items that each group will initiate during
the first year are discussed below. The goal of each Working Group will
be to accomplish the specific action items identified for year one, although
it is recognized that some of these actions will carry over to the second
and subsequent years. The Working Groups and Steering Group will cooperate
with each other to identify and implement specific action items. The Working
Groups will report the results of their progress on each action through
the Steering Group to the Council at regular intervals, as well as carry
out Council direction. The number and focus of the Working Groups may change
over time as tasks are accomplished and the Work Plan is revised.
5.5 Preparedness and Mitigation Working Group
5.5.1 Goals and Objectives
This Working Group will concentrate on short- and long-term management
and policy issues that are intended to reduce the economic, social, and
environmental impacts (i.e. vulnerability) of drought in the West. The Working
Group will identify preparedness actions, policies, and mitigation options
that will facilitate this process and will work cooperatively with localities,
states, Indian tribes, and federal agencies. The Working Group will build
on the drought assessment, response, and planning experiences in western
states, localities, and federal agencies, and will seek to identify new
and innovative solutions to drought and water management issues. The Working
Group will promote drought contingency planning, emphasizing a more proactive,
anticipatory approach to drought management in the region.
For the purposes of this Work Plan the term mitigation is defined as
those specific measures, projects, and actions taken with the intent to
save lives and reduce risk of future damage, hardship, or suffering from
Some general, on-going goals of the Preparedness and Mitigation Working
- Developing recommendations to the Council for drought planning and
management alternatives to mitigate short- and long-term impacts before,
during, and after drought emergencies occur.
- Developing and maintaining an information clearinghouse on drought
monitoring and prediction, response, mitigation, and preparedness for users
throughout the region.
- Developing educational resources (e.g. booklets, reports, videos, drought
simulations) that promote the concepts of drought planning and mitigation
to a diverse audience.
- Interacting with local, state, tribal, and federal officials in the
West and in other regions to share experiences on drought planning and
5.5.2 Specific Action Items (Year 1)
- Review and Analyze Existing Drought Plans. Analyze existing drought
response plans adopted by localities, states, tribes, federal agencies,
and other entities and identify the similarities and differences between
plans, including characteristics such as organizational structures, monitoring
systems, and response programs. This analysis will be shared with all interested
- Inventory and Assess Mitigation Options. Inventory all relevant mitigation
options implemented in response to recent drought events, and assess their
relative effectiveness in both the short and long term, noting any opportunities
- Identify a Model to Conduct Vulnerability Assessments. Promote the
development and use of vulnerability assessments to determine the potential
economic, environmental, and social impacts of drought on specific geographic
regions and economic sectors in the West. For example, vulnerability assessments
could be conducted for local water supplies and forests to determine the
probable impacts associated with droughts of various intensity and duration.
- Develop Information Clearinghouse. An information clearinghouse on
drought monitoring and prediction, response, mitigation, and preparedness
will be developed for users throughout the region in association with the
ongoing programs of the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC).
- Conduct Drought Planning Workshops. Drought workshops will be organized
and conducted to help local, state, tribal, and federal governments and
others learn how to prepare drought contingency plans and evaluate mitigation
options. The Working Group may work with the NDMC in the organization of
these workshops in the western region.
5.6 Monitoring, Assessment, and Prediction Working
5.6.1 Goals and Objectives.
Despite advances made over the past decade in understanding the climate
system, meteorologists and climatologists cannot predict the onset and end
of a drought. Research will continue to improve our knowledge about climate
systems and our capability to understand and predict climate anomalies such
as drought, but there are no simple solutions in sight. Therefore, it is
imperative to develop a drought monitoring system that provides timely recognition
of the occurrence of drought to local, state, tribal, and federal officials
responsible for implementing drought response measures. The goal of the
Working Group will be to develop such a monitoring system.
The activities of the Monitoring, Assessment, and Prediction Working
Group are divided into three components. The specific focus and action items
are given below.
The Working Group will develop a comprehensive drought monitoring system.
The purpose of the monitoring system will be to collect, analyze, and disseminate,
in a usable manner, available data and products to support resource assessment
and decision making as it pertains to drought. The monitoring system will
also track physical impacts during droughts that will help others assess
socioeconomic impacts on various water users and economic sectors.
220.127.116.11 Specific Action Items (Year 1)
- Conduct a Census of Data Networks. The Working Group will conduct a
census of federal, regional, state, local, and private remote and in situ
hydro- meteorological networks. The census will identify station or site
location, environmental variables measured, instrumentation characteristics,
and a comprehensive site history and other parameters of each network.
Variables may include temperature, dew point, wind, snow, snow depth, snow
water equivalent, streamflow, precipitation, reservoir storage, ground
water, river stage, soil temperature, solar radiation, soil moisture, and
evaporation. Initially, the Working Group will access data and products
from the National Weather Service, Coop Network, USDA SNOTEL, and RAWS
networks. The Working Group will access other networks later.
- Develop a Historical Climate Data Base. The Working Group will accumulate
a historical data base for comparative analysis by initiating and maintaining
a working relationship with current environmental archives including the
National Climate Data Center (NCDC), the Regional Climate Centers, the
Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) National Water and Climate
Center, and the NRCS Soil Survey Center.
- Link Networks. The Working Group will transform data from fragmented
single- purpose networks into a multi-purpose asset for management of renewable
natural resources at a regional level by developing linkages of inventories
and information from data networks and environmental archives.
- Distribute Climate Related Information. Once information from data
networks are linked, the Working Group will make use of the Unified Climate
Access Network (UCAN) to distribute climate-related products. UCAN is a
national distribution network for climate-related products in an online
climate data base format.
The purpose of the assessment component is to prepare guidelines for
use by decision makers at all levels as part of a nationwide drought early
18.104.22.168 Specific Action Items (Year 1)
- Evaluate Observed Data. The Working Group will conduct local, regional,
and national evaluation of data, including mean, median, and variance to
highlight daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, yearly, and historic anomalies.
- Evaluate Derived Data. The Working Group will monitor derived variables
and indices for drought assessment including the Palmer Drought Severity
Index, Crop Moisture Index, Standardized Precipitation Index, Surface Water
Supply Index, Crop Specific Indices, and Leaf Area Indices developed from
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Advanced Very
High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) for the Normalized Difference Vegetation
- Identify Triggers for Drought Types. The Working Group will make a
determination of operational definitions and associated "triggers"
and descriptive terms for meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological
drought consistent with needs and activities of the Council. The Working
Group will also determine appropriate indicators for assessing drought
- Regional Drought Assessment Reports. The council believes a quarterly
regional drought assessment report depicting current drought status in
the region would be a useful tool for mitigating the impacts of drought.
By identifying areas of future concern, a product of this type would enable
the Council to be more proactive in its activities. The Working Group will
develop content and format for such a report in the first year, possibly
issuing several prototype releases in preparation for formal, scheduled
releases in year two.
The purpose of the Working Group's focus on prediction is to alert decision
makers of impending drought, drought severity, or the termination of drought.
22.214.171.124 Specific Action Items (Year 1)
- Weather and Climate Predictions. Monthly, seasonal, annual, and interannual
forecasts will be monitored by the Working Group and interpreted for decision
- Forecast Verification. The Working Group will monitor the verification
efforts for long-range forecasts to evaluate their suitability for use
by decision makers involved in drought-related activities.
- Drought Prediction Techniques. The Working Group will monitor drought
prediction techniques and technologies, including the application of soil
moisture, evaporation, and atmospheric and global ocean circulation to
support improved forecasting.
5.7 Response Working Group
5.7.1 Goals and Objectives
This Working Group will concentrate on enhancing the drought response
capability of states, promoting regional drought response mutual aid, strengthening
intergovernmental response partnerships, and improving overall drought response
management and customer service for future droughts by (1) identifying and
cataloging drought assistance programs, resources, and points-of-contact;
(2) aggregating western states' unmet needs in times of drought; (3) identifying
drought response programmatic and policy issues; (4) developing action recommendations
for issue resolution; (5) identifying potential drought response mitigation
strategies, in cooperation with the Preparedness and Mitigation Working
Group; and (6) publicizing drought response lessons learned, in cooperation
with the Communications Working Group.
5.7.2 Specific Action Items (Year 1)
- Review of Drought Reports. Review WGA and FEMA drought reports on the
recent southwestern drought, consolidate/receive action reports, including
lessons learned, and recommend actions to resolve residual issues. Track
and report status of issue resolution.
- Assistance Program Catalog Development. In conjunction with the Communications
Working Group, develop and disseminate a catalog of federal assistance
programs, general eligibility criteria, funding availability, and points-of-
contact for each program.
- Historical Responses and Strategies. Develop a list of historical state
responses to typical short-term drought impacts and potential strategies
for addressing these impacts.
- Drought Occurrence Actions. When a drought occurs, the Working Group
will aggregate reports for the western states to identify unmet needs.
In coordination with state drought response organizations, the Working
Group will make action recommendations and facilitate response actions,
mutual aid, and partnerships. Additionally, the working group will ensure
that a regional post-drought report is completed for each drought.
5.7.3 Future Action Items (Year 2 and 3)
- Data Base Development. Develop a regional response data base.
- Regional Response Network. In conjunction with the Communications Working
Group, create a regional drought response network of working professionals
with expertise in drought response.
- State Response Structure and Plan. In conjunction with the Preparedness
and Mitigation Working Group, promote the establishment within each state
of a state- level drought response organizational structure and a comprehensive
state drought plan that includes monitoring and risk assessment activities,
and emphasizes both short- and long-term drought mitigation.
- Private-Sector Outreach. The Working Group will strengthen ties to
the private sector, businesses, industry, and professional organizations
- Impacts of Long-Term Drought. Develop a list of potential impacts of
extended, multiyear droughts (3 years or more), especially those in commerce,
energy, and public health sectors.
- Post-drought Evaluation, Lessons Learned. In coordination with the
other Working Groups, obtain post-drought evaluation reports, including
lessons learned from states, federal agencies, and other organizations
and associations affected by drought. Consolidate and disseminate lessons
5.8 Communications Working Group
5.8.1 Goals and Objectives.
The Communications Working Group's initial audience is identified as
all parties interested in the objectives of the Council. The initial focus
of the Working Group is to network with all parties interested in the mission
of the Council and ensure that the proper means of communication are known,
current, and widely distributed. The objectives of the Working Group are
to: (1) identify and use existing drought-related information networks,
and suggest complementary means of communication, where appropriate; (2)
facilitate the exchange and dissemination of drought-related information,
and act as a clearinghouse for those documents (where appropriate); (3)
provide a forum for feedback and evaluation of information, programs, and
services; and (4) provide an active communication outreach service for the
Council through press releases and the preparation of articles for publication.
5.8.2 Specific Action Items (Year 1).
The Communications Working Group will work closely with the other Working
Groups to prepare and disseminate products or documents. In addition, the
Communications Working Group will take the lead for the following actions
- Prepare communication strategy. Prepare, in cooperation with the co-chairs
of the Working Groups and the Steering Group, a communication plan to implement
the strategy for the Council and Working Groups. The plan will address
communication and education products and their contents, as well as the
dissemination of the information produced by Working Groups.
- Prepare drought-related program directory. Prepare and distribute a
directory of federal drought-related programs and points-of-contact for
each of these programs in conjunction with the Response Working Group.
- Prepare organizational directory. Prepare and distribute a directory,
with the approval of the Steering Group, of state, local, and other organizations
who are involved or interested in drought-related issues. This directory
would also include contact points that could be used in the coordination
of drought response activities.
- Develop drought media briefing package. Develop a generic western states
drought media briefing package that can be modified and supplemented with
6.0 Council Administration
Coordination for the Council is currently provided by the staff of the
Western Governors' Association with the assistance of the National Drought
Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska. Upon adoption of
this Work Plan by the Council, the overall management and administration
of the Council will be provided by the NDMC. The NDMC was formed in 1995
to help governments and others reduce vulnerability to drought through preparedness
and mitigation. The NDMC has agreed to provide administrative leadership
for the Council and, as such, will manage and coordinate the Council activities
including: organizing meetings of the Council, the Steering Group, and work
groups (including facility logistics); facilitating conference calls and
information exchange among Council participants and members; tracking of
work product development and progress; preparing reports and other final
work products of the Working Groups and the Council's Steering Group; and
reporting and communicating Council activities to the Western Governors'
Association, localities, tribes, state and federal governments, regional
organizations and others on a regular basis.
6.2 Funding Needs
The Council recognizes that accomplishing its goals requires financial
support. Administration and management costs include: personnel, meetings,
conference calls, printing, and mailing. These costs are projected to be
$61,550 per year, as indicated below. A "loaned" federal executive
from the Bureau of Reclamation will be placed in the WGA office, under the
supervision of the NDMC, to support Council activities. The Bureau of Reclamation
will cover the salary of this person for a period of two years and provide
$10,000 per year in operation funds in support of this individual activities.
These operating funds are included in the annual Council budget given above.
|WDCC Budget Summary|
|Administrative Leadership Dr. Don Wilhite (NDMC)
|Drought Management Specialist (provided by Bureau of Reclamation)
Salary ($85,000 x 2 years)
|Administrative Assistance (NDMC) (Provided by USDA)
|Total Direct Costs
6.3 Funding Support
During the first year, the Council Steering Group and Working Groups
will be established and they will work toward implementation of the Work
Plan set forth for in this document. To support this activity, the Council
will receive support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department
of Interior/Bureau of Reclamation. Other federal agencies may also contribute
support to the Council.
Another federal fund source that is being pursued in the intermediate
term is additional funding for the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)
from USDA to cover the annual operating costs for the Council. Depending
on appropriations in the Farm Bill and the legislation's timing this year,
this option may provide support until more stable, long-term sources can
The future budget needs of the Western Drought Coordination Council could
increase depending upon the Work Plan requirements. A long-term strategy
for funding will involve a variety of sources. This could include: partnerships
among federal agencies, WGA, foundations, and the private sector. The long-term
strategy may entail working toward direct congressional funding for Council
activities or the possible establishment of a nonprofit foundation. A specific
long- term strategy for funding Council activities should be developed by
the Steering Group during the first year and be presented to the Council
for approval at its second annual meeting.
Document version: May 27, 1997
Posted to the web: July 3, 1997
Updated May 7, 1998
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