Becoming familiar with droughts can help you better understand what kind of risks you are facing. A drought is one weather hazard that is often underestimated, for two reasons. Droughts have a slow rate of onset and have less of a visual impact on us. However, the long term outcome of a drought can be widespread and very devastating. Being aware of water conservation tips can help to minimize some of the damages of drought.
WHAT IS A DROUGHT? A drought is a water supply shortage for a certain use. A drought situation occurs when water supplies are less than demand. The greater the demand placed on an area's water supply, the more serious the drought. There are several types of drought.
A meteorological drought is defined as a deviation from normal precipitation conditions over a period of time for a specific region.
An agricultural drought occurs after a meteorological drought and is the lack of adequate soil moisture needed for a certain crop to grow and thrive during a particular time.
A hydrological drought occurs when precipitation has been reduced for an extended period of time, and water supplies found in streams, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs are deficient.
A socioeconomic drought is a condition when the physical water supplies are so low that they negatively affect the community where the drought is occurring.
WHAT CAUSES A DROUGHT? A drought situation occurs when water supplies are less than the demands. The greater the demand on an area's water supply, the more serious the drought.
WHAT ARE DROUGHT EFFECTS? Some of the environmental effects include: lowered reservoir and ground-water levels, low streamflows; exposed shoreline, water quality problems, and impaired fish and wildlife habitats. Extended dry weather also heightens the danger of fire. Water resource quantity and/or quality reductions affect people directly and indirectly. If bacterial or other contaminants affect water supplies, unpleasant taste or odor may result. Other effects may include increased water costs, and water usage restrictions may have to be enforced by public officials.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS:Flush toilets less often. They are the largest home water users, as much as 40%.
Take short showers and do not overfill tubs. Showers use 5-10 gallons per minute.
Place a bucket in the shower to collect water for plants.
Don't let water run while shaving, brushing teeth, or hand-washing clothes and dishes.
Wash clothes and dishes in fully loaded machines only.
Repair leaky faucets both indoors and outside and turn them off fully.
Use a garbage disposal sparingly by accumulating waste and then grinding it all at once, flushing with cold water. Alternative: save for composting.
Install home water-saving devices, such as faucet heads and aerators, toilet dams, and pressure-regulator valves.
Water gardens only when needed and between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m. Use an automatic timer and replace leaking sprinklers. (Don't water grass. Brown grass is only dormant, not dead.)
Mulch flower and vegetable gardens, shrubs, and trees to hold more soil moisture and control weeds.
Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running water in the sink until cold.
Wash cars only when necessary and only at a commercial car wash with recirculating facilities.
U.S. Drought Assessment (CPC/NOAA)
Excessive Heat Outlooks (CPC/NOAA)
Latest Drought Data (Interactive)
Palmer Drought Severity Index Map (CPC/NOAA)
National Drought Monitor Map (USDA/NOAA)
National Drought Forecast Map (NCEP/NOAA)
United States Streamflow Map (USGS)
Wildfire Danger Map (USDA)
Wildfire Safety Guide