Drought planning is going mainstream, and the National Drought Mitigation Center has expanded its online collection of state plans that address drought to include more plan types. Until now, the NDMC’s online database of drought plans mainly included stand-alone drought plans. It now also includes existing water plans, hazard plans and climate plans for each state and Puerto Rico.
The updated state planning information on the NDMC website allows users to view a U.S. map that not only shows which states have drought plans -- 47 and Puerto Rico -- but also shows, via color-coding, how recently the plans were created or updated, and whether the plan identifies mitigation or response actions to be taken. Layers showing which states address drought in hazard, water and climate plans also show how recently the plans were created.
The updated database is the result of a long-term coding project in which NDMC staff analyzed nearly 150 plans, said graduate research assistant RaeAnna Hartsgrove, who coded all 50 U.S. state hazard plans. Former NDMC staff members Theresa Jedd and Nicole Wall coded state drought, water and climate plans. The three analyzed existing plans to see whether they included definitions of drought, outlined drought impacts, included triggers for action, focused on mitigation or response strategies, and other key factors. One of the main goals of the project, Hartsgrove said, is to provide state planners with a user-friendly space to search for relevant information when the time comes to create or update state plans that focus on or involve drought.
"We want states to be on top of their planning, and if we have this as a reference, it helps planners get to see which plans include these criteria,” Hartsgrove said.
Users who visit the updated state plan database first view a U.S. map displaying which states have drought plans, and how recently they were updated. On that page, a drop-down menu below the map allows users to search for climate, water and hazard plans as well. When viewing drought plans, the state of Washington, which produced a drought contingency plan in 2018, is shaded in a deep olive to signify its recent release and mitigation focus. Clicking on the state takes the user to a page that not only includes a link to that plan, but also provides links to the state’s water, general hazard and climate plans, relevant Washington state website links, contact information for key officials and the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map of the state.
“The database provides improved access to the content of several drought-related state plans,” said NDMC planning coordinator Cody Knutson. “It not only allows for someone to assess what type of plans are in place across the country, but it can be a great benefit to planners from states looking for guidance or examples of drought-related activities that could be included in their own plans. When beginning a planning process, state planners often look at other state plans for examples. The database will allow them to more easily compare potential options from a range of plans.”
The work to collect and code plans was done through the Drought Risk Management Resource Center, funded through the National Integrated Drought Information System and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sectoral Applications Research Program. NDMC is located in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The updated and expanded state plan database can be found here.
By Cory Matteson, NDMC Communications