At the national level, when policymakers are deciding whether to allocate millions or even billions of dollars in drought relief to farmers and ranchers, statistics that document long-term dry weather can help build the case for distributing emergency assistance. A drought index is a statistical analysis of climate data.
Analyses based on climatology, hydrology, and satellite-derived data are all valuable. So are local history and experience. At the state and national scales, economic crop loss data may be available. Monitoring should also be tailored according to past drought impacts and present vulnerability.
Many water and resource management decisions are state's responsibilities. State approaches to drought planning vary greatly based on how much they experience drought and strained water supplies, and on what part of the country they are in. Water law and land management functions differently in the western and eastern United States.
The NDMC maintains an extensive collection of state drought plans and resources. It includes local, regional and tribal plans and resources, accessible by drilling down from the state level.
Resource: See the 10-Step Planning Process, which has been adapted by many U.S. states as well as countries around the world.
Local, Regional and Tribal
Indian tribes, river basin commissions, water suppliers, planning commissions, municipalities, and individual farmers and ranchers all make decisions about land and water resources. The NDMC recommends that each governmental authority develop its own drought plan, addressing the specific issues that occur within its scope of authority. Note that water utilities' drought plans may be narrower in focus than the full range of issues experienced within a municipality. It is ideal if municipal drought plans are developed with awareness of larger regional or state plans.
Resource: See the Guide to Community Drought Preparedness.