Drought Management Database

This is a growing collection of information about what has been tried in responding to and preparing for drought in the United States. It’s categorized by sector, that is, information of interest for farming, livestock production, water supply and quality, energy, recreation and tourism, fire, plants and wildlife (environment), and society and public health. Each sector is further divided into subsectors.

The Full Search option lets you search by many more criteria, including dates, type of activity (planning, response, monitoring, etc.), decision-making scope (from individual through federal government), by state, and by resource type. You can also do a text search.

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Land-grant universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and non-governmental organizations are among the many sources of practical information for farmers. Topics addressed in fact sheets and, increasingly, webinars, include best practices for cultivating certain crops in drought, managing family stress and finances. It also includes discussions of policy options that relate to agriculture.

This growing collection of resources related to livestock production taps into the considerable knowledge amassed by the United States’ land-grant universities. It includes a drought planning process for ranchers on the Great Plains developed by the National Drought Mitigation Center and collaborators.

City-dwellers generally benefit from water utilities whose job is to smooth out variations in natural water supply. City dwellers may experience drought as needing to restrict outdoor watering to certain days of the week, with indoor restrictions applied if conditions worsen. Landscaping businesses and car washes are typically among those affected by drought in urban areas. Private well-owners in rural areas may need to dig deeper wells or to monitor water quality more frequently during drought.

It takes water to produce many forms of energy. Water turns turbines at dams to produce hydroelectric power; water is used in cooling at coal and nuclear power plants; and water is used in the production of ethanol. There is increasing recognition of the interconnection between energy and water.

Drought adversely affects water-related recreation and tourism but it is hard to quantify the effects. Ski resorts can make snow, but water is one of the ingredients that they need. Resorts may also provide alternatives to skiing or water sports, such as shopping.

Drought can intensify wildfire and increase risk of wildfire, although fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs with or without drought. Excellent resources exist on websites such as Firewise to help homeowners and communities prevent property damage.

Particularly outside urban areas and managed land, drought affects what does and doesn’t thrive in the environment. Drought can cause plants to flower abundantly or not at all; it can lead to trees dropping leaves sooner and with less color in the fall; or it can lead to complete regime change, in which one set of plants dies out and is replaced by others better suited to a dry ecosystem. Dry or warm rivers lead to fish kill and to wildlife ranging further in search of water and food. Maintaining in-stream flows and other water in the environment, often by invoking the Endangered Species Act in water management, is one of the ways people preserve habitat during drought.

Drought can take a toll on people’s mental and physical health. It is particularly stressful for farm and ranch families. Others may be adversely affected by airborne dust or increased concentration of contaminants in water.

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