Utah Department of Public Safety

Emergency Management - Utah Hazards - Drought Information

Drought is a normal part of the climate for virtually all regions of the United States, but it is of particular concern in the west, where any interruption of the region's already limited water supplies over extended periods of time, can produce devastating impacts. Records indicate that drought occurs somewhere in the west almost every year. However, it is multi - year drought events that are of the greatest concern to water planners, natural resource managers, and government policy makers.

There are a variety of definitions of the term drought, put in general, the State considers, or accepts, that drought exists within the State when the Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) is in the negative, or drought range, for a particular region of the State for a long - enough period of time that crop harvests are affected and, hence, the argicultural economy.

The Surface Water Supply Index incorporates multiple hydrologic / climatological components into a single, objectively derived index value for each major basin in the state. It focuses on surface water supplies derived from melting snow, which accounts for most of the annual flow of the state's major streams. Reservoir storage and current precipitation amounts are also taken into account in appraising available or forecasted water supplies.

The mitigation of drought hazards has proven to be quite difficult. The following are a few mitigation recommendations from the State's current Drought Hazard Mitigation Plan:

  1. Continue to encourage cooperation between local, State and Federal agencies that may assist with alleviating impact during drought periods.
  2. Continue to encourage interaction between government and farmers and ranchers on drought issues.
  3. Create a drought outreach program by explaining available State and Federal drought assistance programs and current drought conditions.
  4. Develop, implement and promote water conservation measures.
  5. Drought increases wildfire potential; encourage wildfire mitigation efforts.

Additional Informational Resources

USDA Farm Services Agency (FSA)

  • Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) shares with agricultural producers the cost of rehabilitating eligible farmlands damaged by natural disaster. During severe drought, ECP also provides emergency water assistance - both for livestock and for existing irrigation systems for orchards and vineyards.
  • Emergency Loan Assistance (EM) USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides emergency loans to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters, or quarantine.
  • The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) The NAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers affected by natural disasters. This federally funded program covers noninsurable crop losses and planting prevented by disasters.
  • Emergency Haying and Grazing Assistance of certain Conservation Reserve Program acreage may be made available in areas of suffering from weather - related disasters.

UBRC Water Conservation - Drought Assistance

In 1991, Congress established the Bureau of Reclamation's Drought Program to authorize emergency response and planning assistance that would minimize and mitigate losses and damages resulting from drought conditions. Under Title I, Reclamation provides emergency drought assistance to states, including the following activities:

  • Purchase of water for threatened and endangered species
  • Pond construction for wildlife
  • Dike construction for wetlands
  • Well drilling

Utah Division of Water Resources

Western Governor's Drought Initiatives

The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)

  • NDMC helps people and institutions develop and implement measures to reduce societal vulnerability to drought, stressing preparedness and risk management rather than crisis management. Most of the NDMC's services are directed to state, federal, regional, and tribal governments that are involved in drought and water supply planning.

National Weather Service Fire Weather Forecast

NOAA Drought Information

US Drought Monitor

Colorado River Forecasting center (NOAA)

USGS Water Resources

Bureau of Reclamation

[Last Update - Friday, 08-Mar-2013 16:25:54 MST]