Drought Simulation Exercise

Photo of Drought CornstalksPurpose

Engage stakeholders to be better prepared for extremes, specifically drought. This project was designed to increase awareness of drought challenges and the resources available to water users for drought conditions related to water supply.


Drought is a normal occurrence in all areas of Kansas and can heavily impact communities, businesses, industry, agriculture, plants, wildlife, livestock, tourism, recreation, and water supply. The state estimates within 50 years, five of the seven major river basins in eastern Kansas will have demands during drought that exceed available water supply.


In December of 2016, a drought tournament with five teams representing a broad range of stakeholders was held to address scenarios of water management and planning against 33 years of historic water availability and climatic conditions including drought periods. The objective was to reduce shortage quantities and their frequency over the entire period.

Water resource professionals from numerous agencies along with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and climate personnel from various drought sectors of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed water use and response options along with supporting materials for a drought exercise. A tournament tool, developed for the exercise, provided players with an analysis of the effect of their selected water management option or options. These options were: reallocation of reservoir storage pools; storage expansion in existing reservoirs (pool rise); increased use of groundwater; construction of additional reservoirs; introduction of water transferred from a neighboring basin; shortage sharing among all water users; conservation at various levels; and target flow adjustments.

drought_lakeanthony_harpercoksCurrent Updates

The participants generally felt the tournament was a worthwhile event with potential to make use of the methodology in real basins for education of the public and water planning. Plans are to use modified tool and modeling ideas from the tournament with regional advisory committees and other stakeholders in eastern basins to engage these areas in planning for future droughts.

The drought tournament highlighted the role that the individual stream-aquifer basin models, which are currently maintained and operated by the Kansas Water Office, can serve in assisting with implementing many regional goals. The KWO plans to coordinate with the RACs, and where feasible, further customize the stream-aquifer models in their specific basins. These targeted modeling efforts can help to identify and evaluate potential changes to the existing basin infrastructure and/or operations in order to achieve their regional goals.

On September 1, 2017, a Regional Advisory Committee Drought Workshop was held for the Marais des Cygnes, Neosho and Verdigris Regions. The goal of the workshop was to provide the opportunity for hands-on experience with the drought interface tool and model developed by HydroLogics for the Kansas Water Office. The demonstrations and participant interaction demonstrated how the model can be used for drought mitigation and long-term water supply planning in each of these regions. Approximately 20 RAC members and out of state guests participated in the daylong event.


$150,000 - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

Project Manager

Diane Knowles

KWO Office
900 SW Jackson Street
Suite 404
Topeka, Kansas 66612
Phone: 785-296-3185
Fax: 785-296-0878
Toll Free: 1-888-526-9283
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