DROUGHT RESPONSE: Things to Consider and Do during Drought
What should you consider?
- Water contract and right restrictions
- Drought contingency plan requirements
- Supplier, customer and regulatory agency coordination
- Coordination with governing bodies
- Connected supply and demand comparison
- Reactions of others and impact on water supply
- Low lake levels and intake elevations
- Transmission system restrictions
- Increased losses in bed and banks delivery
- Impacts on water demand
- Impacts on water quality
- Available drought response measures
- Pro-rata reduction procedures and equity
- Financial impacts including income an expenditures
- Public response and public information strategy
What should you do?
TAKE AN ORGANIZED APPROACH
Successful solutions require organization. Review water right permits, contracts with suppliers and customers, drought contingency and conservation plans. Develop a response. Communicate with stakeholders including water suppliers, major customers and governing bodies. Consider variables such as water quality and lake levels. Apply contingency plan including trigger points.
REVIEW THE CURRENT SITUATION
Ask, “Is our drought contingency plan being effectively implemented?” and “Are additional conservation measures necessary or desirable?”
Gather key staff and legal/engineering consultants to consider current status of supplies, drought contingency plans including possible changes, what might happen and impacts, potential and current supply options, need for additional drought studies and stakeholder communication strategies.
MEET WITH PARTNERS
Drought or not, water suppliers and major customers are key partners. Discuss drought contingency plans and review contracts. Determine operational changes, additional supplies or transmission improvements necessary for success.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR GOVERNING BODY
Early and frequent communication with governing bodies is essential. Inform governing bodies about the full range of possible outcomes, discuss responses and plans, clarify their roles and responsibilities and update them as the drought progresses.
CONSIDER POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. During a drought, additional supplies may be in high demand and, therefore, unavailable to you. What is the worst case? How can you minimize a drought’s impacts?
DEVELOP CONTINGENCY PLANS AND TRIGGERS
No one can see the future, but you need to be ready to respond if the worst occurs. It is important to have a plan that you can implement if the drought continues. Consider triggers like demands, length of the drought, lake levels, or groundwater levels. Effective triggers can mitigate the need to take extreme contingency measures prematurely.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES
Consider taking advantage of proactive opportunities such as making repairs while water is low, seeking public support during droughts to secure supplemental supplies and planning and preparing before the drought.
MONITOR, IMPLEMENT AND ADJUST
Monitor the drought and water supplies. Implement drought contingency plan response strategies. Adjust your plan according to events and opportunities.