National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought-Ready Communities

The Drought-Ready Communities pilot project culminated in summer 2010 with a Guide to Community Drought Preparedness that communities throughout the United States can use to understand and reduce their drought risk.

The process outlined in the Guide is broad-based, recognizing that drought creates problems that go beyond the scope of what water suppliers alone can address. Worksheets and other exercises can help communities see how drought has affected water supplies and overall community well-being in the past. The Guide can also help communities identify their drought monitoring resources, so they can spot emerging drought. A planning section helps communities determine steps they can take  to reduce their drought risk ahead of time. It also recommends planning responses to drought before the next one happens. The Guide includes case studies and an extensive resource collection on how other municipalities have planned for drought, including both processes and solutions.

Drought-Ready Communities was a two-year project sponsored by the Sectoral Applications Research Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration. It was a collaborative effort by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey and State Climatologist’s Office, and the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance. Three pilot communities, representing a range of water supply sources, population sizes, and economic baselines, were invited to participate in the development of the DRC methodology and all associated materials. The three pilot communities included Nebraska City, NE; Decatur, IL; and Norman, OK.

Anticipated Benefits

  • Increased community awareness of water, climate, and drought
  • Reduced dollar losses during the next drought
  • Reduced stress during the next drought
  • Protecting animals’ habitat 
  • Increased community resilience to drought and other hazards

Anticipated Outcomes

  • Understanding past droughts and their impacts on the community
  • Implementing a system to monitor drought conditions and impacts
  • Establishing regular communication about drought conditions and impacts
  • Knowing what actions to take before and during a drought