Water is vital for agriculture, human consumption, industry, and energy generation. If local surface water and groundwater are used up or contaminated beyond use, it becomes necessary to turn to alternative, often more expensive water sources.
Extreme drought is part of natural climatic cycles around the world. Historic records and prehistoric reconstructions extending back 1000 years document that extreme droughts have occurred repeatedly in North America, sometimes for longer periods than even the most severe droughts of the 20th century. Research on climate variability is addressing how drought may impact the United States in the future.
Drought is a natural hazard that can have far-reaching economic, social, and ecological impacts. Since 1980 alone the United States has experienced more than 15 major droughts, with economic impacts exceeding $153 billion. Due to drought’s diffuse impacts, the federal responsibility for drought management and response is currently spread among several agencies.
On July 31, a group of Democrats from Western states introduced the Water in the 21st Century Act, which includes a number of programs intent on conserving and managing diminishing water supplies in drought-stricken states.
A devastating drought currently affects almost half of the contiguous U.S., with conditions expected to persist or intensify in many of these areas, according to an outlook released this month by the National Integrated Drought Information System.
The Hawaii Drought Plan (HDP) has been updated for use by the Hawaii Drought Council to improve coordination and implementation of drought management strategies for the State of Hawaii. The revised plan is intended to serve as a framework through which State and local entities can work together to proactively implement mitigation measures and appropriate response actions during periods of drought. Effective coordination of these activities can help reduce and minimize the effects upon the people and natural resources of Hawaii.