Annotated Bibliography on Drought

Primer: What Is Drought?

Hayes, M.J., Brian D. Wardlow, Mark D. Svoboda, Tsegaye Tadesse, and Kelly H. Smith. 2009. "Sharpening the Focus on Drought — New Monitoring and Assessment Tools at the National Drought Mitigation Center." Earthzine. March 30. Available at

Pulwarty, R., D. Wilhite, D. Diodato, and D. Nelson, 2007. "Drought in changing environments — Creating a Roadmap, Vehicles and Drivers." Natural Hazards Observer. May 07. Available at

Wilhite, D.A. 2006. "Drought Monitoring and Early Warning: Concepts, Progress and Future Challenges." Geneva: World Meteorological Organization. WMO No. 1006. Available at

This booklet explains the various concepts and challenges of drought monitoring and early warning systems as part of WMO's implementation activities for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification. This booklet also details the considerable progress that has been made on these issues in some drought-prone countries by highlighting several case studies from around the world.

Planners' Role in Drought Mitigation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and American Water Works Association. 2010. "When every drop counts: protecting public health during drought conditions — a guide for public health officials." Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at

This publication is intended to assist public health officials, practitioners, and other stakeholders in their efforts first to understand and then to prepare for drought in their communities. It provides information about how drought affects public health, recommends steps to help mitigate the health effects of drought, identifies future needs for research and other drought-related activities, and provides a list of helpful resources and tools.

Hayes, M.J., O. Wilhelmi, and C.L. Knutson. 2004. "Reducing Drought Risk: Bridging Theory and Practice." Journal of Natural Hazards Review 5(2): 106-113. Available at

A simplified, flexible framework for conducting a drought risk analysis is presented. This framework is intended to be a practical, action-oriented model to assist drought planners on a variety of political and geographic scales.

Jacobs, Katharine L., Gregg M. Garfin, and Barbara J. Morehouse, "Climate Science and Drought Planning: the Arizona Experience." Journal of American Water Resources Association 41(2):437-446.

The Arizona Governor's Drought Task Force focused on limiting the economic and social impacts of future droughts through enhanced adaptation and mitigation efforts. The plan was designed to maximize the use of new, scientific breakthroughs in climate monitoring and prediction and in vulnerability assessment. Stakeholder engagement and decision support are key objectives in reducing Arizona's vulnerability in light of the potential for severe, sustained drought.

Knutson, C. L. 2008. "The role of water conservation in drought planning." Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 63(5). Available at

The survey found that the nation's capacity for storing surface water is limited, groundwater is being depleted, growing populations and pressures to keep water in-stream for fisheries and the environment are placing new demands on the freshwater supply, and the potential effect of climate change creates additional uncertainty about future water availability.

Lawrimore, J., R. Heim, M. D. Svoboda, V. Swail, and P. J. Englehart. 2002. "Beginning a New Era of Drought Monitoring Across North America." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 83 (8):1191-1192. Available at

Since its inception in 1999, the U.S. Drought Monitor (DM) has been extremely successful in assessing and communicating the state of drought in the U.S. on a weekly basis. The new drought monitoring program is part of a broader effort to improve the monitoring and assessment of climate extremes across the continent through a cooperative effort that was established in 2001 among the three countries.

Svoboda, M.D., D. LeComte, M.J. Hayes, R. Heim, K. Gleason, J. Angel, B. Rippey, R. Tinker, M. Palecki, D. Stooksbury, D. Miskus, and S. Stevens. 2002. "The Drought Monitor. An Integrated Approach to Water Supply Assessment." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 83 (8):1181-1190. Available at

The Drought Monitor was started in spring 1999 in response to a need for improved information about the status of drought across the United States. The Drought Monitor process also illustrates the creative use of Internet technologies to disseminate authoritative information about drought and to receive regional and local input that is in turn incorporated into the product.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2006. "Growing Toward More Efficient Water Use: Linking Development Infrastructures, and Drinking Water Policies." January. Available at

This report focuses on the nexus between water and growth. Part I summarizes the challenges of meeting demand for safe drinking water. Part II asks: "Is there a way to accommodate growth that minimizes its effects on water consumption and distribution costs?" Part III asks: "What water policies can support this type of growth?"

UNISDR/NDMC. 2009. "Drought Risk Reduction Practices: Contributing to the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action." 2nd ed. Geneva: United Nations Secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Available at

In order for planners and the public to implement effective mitigation and preparedness measures to reduce drought impacts, they have to understand drought's evolution, complexity, social implications and people's vulnerability. To this end, wide-ranging and well-coordinated efforts at international, regional, and national levels are needed to build drought-resilient communities and societies.

Wilhite, D.A., and C.L. Knutson. 2008. "Drought Management Planning: Conditions for Success." Options Méditerranéennes. Series A (80):141-148. Available at

Drought mitigation planning is directed at building the institutional capacity necessary to move away from this crisis management paradigm. This change is a gradual process that requires changes in government policies and human behavior. Developing improved drought monitoring and early warning systems in support of drought preparedness planning and policy is an urgent need for all drought-prone counties.

Wilhite, D.A., M.D. Svoboda, and M.J. Hayes. 2007. "Understanding the Complex Impacts of Drought: A Key to Enhancing Drought Mitigation and Preparedness." Water Resources Management 21(5):763-774. Available at

No national drought impact database exists and drought impact statistics are not routinely compiled at the state, regional, or national level. The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is addressing this problem by creating a web-based Drought Impact Reporter (DIR).

Wilhite, D.A., et al. 2007. "Managing Drought: A Roadmap for Change in the United States, a Conference Report from Managing Drought and Water Scarcity in Vulnerable Environments, Geological Society of America." September 2006. Available at

Drought Mitigation Planning Tools and Resources

American Association of State Climatologists

The American Association of State Climatologists offers on their website the Climate Service Catalog, an ongoing effort to document the online climate-related services provided by AASC members. The services provided by the state climate offices are the primary focus, but online climate tools of interest to the public offered by other membership and partners (including the regional climate centers, NCDC, and other NOAA agencies) are also listed.

The American Water Resources Association (AWRA)

The American Water Resources Association is a nonprofit professional association dedicated to water resources management, research, and education. It is the professional home of a wide variety of water resources experts including engineers, educators, foresters, biologists, ecologists, geographers, managers, regulators, hydrologists, and attorneys.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA)

AWWA is the authoritative resource on safe water, providing knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of water in North America and beyond. AWWA advances public health, safety, and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the water community.

The Drought Monitor

From the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the monitor provides a "big picture" perspective of conditions across the nation. The site offers a synthesis of multiple indices and impacts that represents a consensus of federal and academic scientists attempting to track drought.

Drought Impact Reporter

Comprehensive national database of drought impacts launched by the National Drought Mitigation Center in July 2005. It allows producers to report concerns and impacts such as crop loss, livestock loss or need to sell, fish kills, dry wells, and community water supply challenges.

Drought Risk Atlas (forthcoming)

Understanding the history of drought in a given area can help producers make better management decisions. The Drought Risk Atlas provides users with a comprehensive, site-specific assessment of the history, frequency, intensity, duration, and patterns of drought in the past century.

Drought Watch

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides information on 7-day average streamflow measured at long-term gaging stations and compares them with normal flows.

The National Climatic Data Center

NCDC provides graphs showing time series of precipitation, temperature, and SPI and PDSI at the climate division level.

National Drought Mitigation Center

The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln helps people and institutions develop and implement measures to reduce societal vulnerability to drought, stressing preparedness and risk management rather than crisis management. The center produces drought monitoring tools and information to help people assess drought severity and impacts:

NDMC Directory of Drought and Management Plans

The National Drought Mitigation Center maintains a database of drought and management plans for states, watersheds, tribes, counties, and cities.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service (NWS) Drought Impact Statements demonstrate how drought is communicated between NWS officials and the public.

NOAA – Climate Services Portal

NOAA's Climate Services Portal's (NCS Portal) goal is to become the "go-to" website for NOAA's climate data, products, and services for all users. Currently under development, the expectation over time is to make all of NOAA's climate datasets available via the NCS Portal. At this time, the focus is on developing the infrastructure and capacity to showcase a wide breadth of climate information to the portal's users.

NOAA – Regional Climate Centers

NOAA's Regional Climate Centers seek to provide timely production and delivery of useful climate data, information and knowledge for decision makers and other users at the local, state, regional, and national levels.

NIDIS Drought Portal

The U.S. Drought Portal is part of the interactive system to:

  • Provide early warning about emerging and anticipated droughts
  • Assimilate and quality control data about droughts and models
  • Provide information about risk and impact of droughts to different agencies and stakeholders
  • Provide information about past droughts for comparison and to understand current conditions
  • Explain how to plan for and manage the impacts of droughts
  • Provide a forum for different stakeholders to discuss drought-related issues

Oklahoma Climatological Survey – Climate Information Group

Climate trend information for temperature and precipitation is available by state climate division.

The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program

SCIPP is a climate research initiative whose goal is to help communities better plan for weather and climate-related disasters in the southern United States. Focusing on the six-state study region of Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, SCIPP concentrates on the high frequency of hazardous climatological events that plague the region including extremes in precipitation (droughts and floods) as well as other hazards including severe storms and hurricanes.

U.S. Global Change Research Program

The USGCRP will work with Roundtable on Climate Information and Services under the National Science and Technology Council to develop a common definition of climate service, examine national assets, and provide a roadmap of how the federal government can provide climate services in a coordinated way.

Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI)

VegDRI, is a bi-weekly depiction of vegetation stress across the contiguous United States. VegDRI is a fine resolution (1-km2) index based on remote sensing data, but unlike other satellite-based measurements, VegDRI also incorporates climate and biophysical data to determine the cause of vegetation stress. It covers all states in the lower 48. Development of the VegDRI map and associated products is a joint effort by the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), the U.S. Geological Survey's National Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS), and the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC). More information and maps may be found at

Legal Framework

Cody, Betsy A., Judy Schneider, Mary Tiemann, and Grace Relf. 2012. "Selected Federal Water Activities: Agencies, Authorities, and Congressional Committees." A Congressional Research Project Report for Congress. August 17. Available at

Congress has enacted hundreds of federal laws affecting the nation's water resources and continues to address numerous water-related issues annually. This report covers four general areas: (1) "Water Resources Development, Management, and Use"; (2) "Water Quality, Protection, and Restoration"; (3) "Water Rights and Allocation"; and (4) "Research and Planning."

Folger, Peter, Betsy A. Cody, and Nicole T. Carter. 2012. "Drought in the United States: Caused and Issues for Congress." A Congressional Research Project Report for Congress. August 15. Available at

This report describes the physical causes of drought, drought history in the U.S., and policy challenges related to drought. It also provides examples of recurrent regional drought conditions.

Best Practices Checklist / Guides

American Water Works Association. 2011. "M. 60 Drought Preparedness and Response." Available for purchase at

Manual M60 will help water managers facing water shortages by illustrating how to employ tried-and-true strategies and tactics of drought mitigation, as well as new tools and methods. The manual provides a proven, seven-step process to anticipate and respond to water shortages through a structured planning process.

Banking on Green: A Look at How Green Infrastructure can Save Municipalities Money and Provide Economic Benefits Community-Wide. April 2012. A joint report by American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Landscape Architects and ECONorthwest. Available at

This report focuses on stormwater management. It's not intended to be an academic or technical document, but instead to be an "easy to read" compendium of current experiences, analysis, and knowledge.

Environmental Protection Agency, New England. 2009. "Managing Stormwater with Low Impact Development Practices: Addressing Barriers to LID." Fact Sheet. April. Available at

This fact sheet addresses several concerns and barriers that arise when considering LID techniques, including cost, cold weather, groundwater, public safety, and regulatory concerns.

National Drought Mitigation Center. 2011. "Drought Ready Communities: A Guide to Community Drought Preparedness." Available at

A guide that communities throughout the U.S. 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.

Shafer, M., and R. Riley. 2012. "Managing Drought in the Southern Plains: A summary of survey responses to the webinar series." Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program. Available at

Western Lands and Communities. 2012. "Drought Planning Resources."

Provides links to resources and information on best practices in drought planning in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Wilhite, Donald A., Michael J. Hayes, and Cody L. Knutson. 2005. "Drought Preparedness Planning: Building Institutional Capacity." Reprinted from D.A. Wilhite, ed. Drought and Water Crises: Science, Technology, and Management Issues Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press. Available at

A 10-step planning process that has been adapted for use by cities, tribes, states, and countries around the world, and that has benefited from continuous refinement.

Best Practice Examples / Case Studies


Arizona Department of Water Resources Statewide Drought Program.

Provides information on Arizona's drought status, drought planning, water supplies, and up-to-date policies and declarations by the governor and various impact groups and committees.

Knutson, C., M. Hayes, and M. Svoboda. 2007. "Case Study of Tribal Drought Planning: The Hualapai Tribe." Natural Hazards Review 8(4): 125–131. Available at

Phoenix, City of. 2011. "2011 Water Resource Plan." Water Services Department. Available at

_____. 2011. "Drought Management Plan." Phoenix City Code (Chapter 37, Sections 121 and 130.2) Available at

Hualapai Tribe
See also: Ferguson, D.B., C. Alvord, M. Crimmins, M. Hiza Redsteer, C. McNutt, M. Hayes, M. Svoboda, and R. Pulwarty. 2011. "Drought Preparedness for Tribes in the Four Corners Region." Report from April 2010 Workshop. Tucson, Ariz.: Climate Assessment for the Southwest. Available at


California Department of Water Resources. 2008. "Urban Drought Guidebook: 2008 Updated Edition." Available at

A guidebook to help water suppliers cope with potentially severe drought and other water shortages. It provides specific examples of community supply augmentation and demand reduction strategies. These include: public information campaigns, landscape irrigation schedules, water restrictions and ordinances (for waste water, landscaping), modified water pricing, and tips for enforcement. Demand reduction measures by customer category (residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, etc.) are illustrated. The guidebook stresses that successful programs are the result of a cooperative effort between water suppliers and customers.

California Department of Water Resources et al. 2010. "20x2020 Water Conservation Plan." Available at

California Department of Water Resources. 2010. "California Drought Contingency Plan." Available at

Eastern Municipal Water District (Western Riverside County, California) "Water Shortage Contingency Plan," Ordinance No. 117.2. Available at

Redwood City

"Recycled Water Use Ordinance 2335." Available at

San Diego

The city's website uses a four-tiered, color-coded scale for communicating drought conditions to the public.

Santa Cruz

City of Santa Cruz Local Hazard Mitigation Plan 2007-2012.


Colorado Water Conservation Board. "State Drought Planning." Available at

______. 2010. "Municipal Drought Management Plan Guidance Document." Available at

A comprehensive overview of drought management planning in Colorado. This document should be used in conjunction with the information presented on the CWCB website as well as in CWCB's Drought Toolbox.

______. 2011. "Sample Municipal Drought Management Plan." Available at

The sample Municipal Drought Management Plan is a complementary resource to the Municipal Drought Management Plan Guidance Document, both developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. These documents in conjunction with the Drought Toolbox and other drought related information on CWCB's website, serve as reference tools that water providers and local governments throughout the state may use to develop local drought management plans.

_______. 2011. "Innovations of the 2010 Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan." PowerPoint presentation to UCOWR/NIWR at Boulder, Colorado, on July 14. Available at

The Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan was developed to provide an effective and systematic means for the State of Colorado to reduce the impacts of water shortages over the short or long term. The plan outlines a mechanism for coordinated drought monitoring, impact assessment, response to emergency drought problems, and mitigation of long-term drought impacts.


Boulder Drought Plan. 2010. Available at


Denver Water. 2011. Drought Response Plan. Available at


Florida Department of Environmental Protection, et al. 2007. "Florida Drought Action Plan."

Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 2007. "Recommendations for a Drought-Resistant Florida." Available at

Florida Administrative Weekly and Florida Administrative Code. "Rule Chapter 40D-21". Covers state administrative rules for water shortages in Florida.

Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Water Utility, Tampa Bay, and Example of conjunctive use of multiple water sources including seawater desalination.


Georgia, State of. 2003. "Georgia Drought Management Plan." Available at

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

United States Environmental Protection Agency, Ecosystems Research Division. 2010. "Water Management Plan." June.


Hecht, J., and V. Knapp. 2008. "Data for assessing drought vulnerability of Illinois's community surface water systems." Contract Report 2008-02. Available at


Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Water. Division of Water. 2009. Indiana's Water Shortage Plan.


Kansas Water Office. 2011. 2011 Kansas Drought Response Guidelines for Public Water Suppliers. July.

Governor's Drought Response Team. 2009. Responding to Drought: A Guide for City, County and Water System Officials. November.


Governor's Drought Task Force. "Drought Monitoring Working Group." Reports available at


Las Vegas Zoning Code. Chapter 19.12 Landscape, Wall and Buffer Requirements


Oregon Environmental Council. "Low Impact Development: Protecting Oregon's Water as We Grow." Fact Sheet. Available at


Water Resources Board. 2002. "Rhode Island Drought Management Plan." Report Number 104. Providence: Rhode Island Department of Administration Information Services.


Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. 2010. Drought Management Plan. Available at

________. 2009. Guidance for Developing Community Water System Drought Management Plans. Available at


Texas Water Development Board

TWDB's mission is to ensure that Texas is prepared for drought, not only by overseeing and maintaining a state water plan, but also through financing a significant portion of water and wastewater infrastructure for the state, including the matching funds for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.

San Antonio

San Antonio, City of. "Drought-tolerant Grass."

San Antonio, City of. Drought Operations Plan

San Marcos

San Marcos, City of. Drought Response Ordinance and


Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. 2010. "River Basin Approaches to Water Management in the Mid-Atlantic States." A report for the the Mid-Atlantic Water Program.

This publication discusses five emerging interstate water management issues that river basin commissions are facing or will face. These issues illustrate how quickly a new water use or concern can alter the interests of a resource's stakeholders. The discussion also demonstrates how important it is to keep up with water issues and how vulnerable water can be.

Delaware River Basin Commission and

Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River National Quality Assessment Program