Many U.S. states faced water shortage and drought conditions through 2015. This was partly to do with water sources (such as groundwater or snowpack levels) and partly to do with water and infrastructure management with these sources.
USA Today has produced a list of the eight most severely affected states, which are:
South Carolina, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, California, Washington, and Oregon.
The article examines the causes and results of the drought in these states in-depth and generalizes:
“The ramifications of such severe drought conditions for these states and for the nation are manifold. In California alone, the drought has resulted in the loss of $900 million in crop revenue and $350 million in dairy and livestock revenue.
Beyond the economic impacts, municipal cutbacks and water restrictions have a tangible impact on people living in these areas. In addition, “things have gotten worse particularly in the interior,” Rippey said. “They didn’t get (a spring rainfall) this year — it has been very hot, very dry, on top of lack of snowpack. For that reason, we had a couple million acres burned due to wildfires across the Northwest. A really devastating wildfire season, especially for the Northwest.” As of the middle of August, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington — states with the worst drought conditions in the nation — were reporting at least five large active fires each. In Montana and Washington, there are 14 fires, trailing Idaho, that are at least 16 large fires raging across the state.”
Management is definitely needed to best combat the drought. Many municipalities in these states are already putting new plans into action.
Inframanage.com observes that drought conditions have been recorded throughout history, and are not a new occurrence. Drought severity can vary, and at times can be extreme.
For water utilities, drought planning and management are essential. It is very hard to give service or sell water when your water sources are being restricted or have run out due to drought conditions.
Drought planning and management are generally covered in two areas of infrastructure management planning – Future Demand, and Risk.
In the Risk Management section, this should be as part of a wider analysis of system and network resilience – which could cover topics such as – natural events (including drought), security risks, network vulnerabilities to failure, and inter-dependency with other networks – such as electricity networks.
Planning for water utility infrastructure network resilience (including drought resilience) and understanding the risks, costs, and return on investment, helps communities and decision-makers prioritize responses, and to know when the investment is needed.
PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Emerson via Flickr Creative Commons License