Planning for Drought Mitigation & Preparedness

Symposium Highlights

On July 26-27, 2012, the American Planning Association hosted a scoping symposium in its Chicago office to explore the ways in which planning can address drought mitigation. Invited participants focused on helping APA to define the appropriate audiences and central issues for the project, delineate the guiding principles in planning for drought resilience, refine the outline for the PAS Report, and identify criteria for best practices and potential case examples to study.

Download the full symposium summary (pdf)

Defining the Audience

During the first discussion of symposium, participants suggested the following potential audiences for the PAS report:

  • Local planners (urban and rural)
  • Local water agency and utilities
  • Public health officials
  • Emergency management community

Impacts of Drought

During the next discussion of the symposium, participants offered the following impacts as those that should be addressed by the project and final report:

  • Water supply
  • Increased wildfire
  • Pubic health
  • Environment
  • Economic losses
  • Water quality
  • Recreation and parks
  • Tourism
  • Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Water infrastructure

Action Steps

Next, participants discussed proactive planning actions to mitigate impacts:

  • Set regulations and policies to maintain water supply
  • Incorporate drought with wildfire protection planning
  • Utilize public health resources
  • Identify potential economic impact
  • Water quality management
  • Manage water infrastructure
  • Assess and analyze energy impacts

Guiding Principles

After identifying impacts and action steps, participants discussed the following as guiding principles for the final report:

  • Risk assessment
  • Monitoring and information system
  • Integration of drought into planning process
  • Inclusionary stakeholder involvement
  • Collaborative framework
  • Resilience, variability, and sustainability
  • Plan quality (module and stand alone)

Structure of the Report

Next, participants offered the following reactions to the draft outline for the final report:

  • Include cross-disciplinary glossary.
  • See notes for more bullet points
  • Make it clear that drought is complex yet manageable
  • Cover the dimensions of resiliency and variability
  • Identify stakeholders
  • Discuss data management and other tools available

Best Practices Examples

In the final discussion of the symposium, participants suggested the following ideas, principles and approaches that should be highlighted by specific case examples:

  • Indianapolis, Indiana (integrated drought as component to other plans)
  • Phoenix, Arizona (statistical analysis scenarios in general plan; conjunctive management)
  • Denver, Colorado (good drought plan but may not be well integrated)
  • San Antonio, Texas (regional water alliance)
  • Athens-Clarke, Georgia (documented process of Water Conservation Committee; county commissioner and mayor as champions)
  • Colorado State
  • Archuleta, Colorado (state vulnerability index; hazard mitigation)
  • City of Boulder, Colorado (integrated water supply plan; used historical record to develop plan)
  • Potomac Delaware River Basin Commission Director Joe Bauchman (drought simulation planning; champion)
  • Tampa Bay Water Utility, Tampa Bay, Florida (example of conjunctive use of multiple water sources including seawater desalination)
  • California Best Practices (Redwood City, West Riverside County, Santa Cruz)
  • Hualapai, Arizona (tribal example; tourism and recreation)
  • Cheyenne River / Sioux
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River National Quality Assessment Program
  • Colorado State (outreach best practices; water conservation board)
  • California State (logos, mascots, open public messages)
  • Decatur, Illinois (identified triggers)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (landscaping programs)
  • Rhode Island Water Management Plan (references drought)
  • International Examples (Murray Island Basin, Australia)