Climate and Drought Monitoring Response

The Kansas Water Office monitors conditions through numerous federal and state climate, weather, agricultural, and agency tools to compile and track pertinent conditions in Kansas. Many new tools and information sources have been developed through federal efforts in recent years that have enhanced the state’s ability to monitor conditions and help prepare for drought. 

No single index defines drought for all circumstances, so multiple indices are used. Kansas monitors precipitation, stream flow, reservoir levels and soil, crop and vegetation conditions while considering the tools such as the U.S. Drought Monitor and the Seasonal Drought Outlook prepared by the National Weather Service to judge drought status. Drought Fact Sheet

Drought Declarations Updated in Kansas Counties Executive Order 18-18Click here to expand the drought map


Kansas Drought Declarations are intended to advise citizens that conditions warrant consideration of the water demands, wildfire potential and other drought related impacts. The Drought Declaration itself does not trigger specific actions for a city or rural water district, or individuals but indicates the supplier should monitor water supply and demand to avoid shortages as well as make sure water conservation plans are up to date. Examples of specific activities to consider when in drought are: time of day to water, water use of garden plantings, not installing new lawns, additional livestock, non-essential outdoor water use and dangers of open burning. Drought Declarations remain in effect until changed or rescinded. 


Current Climate and Drought Report

November 2018 - Climate and Drought Report


Drought and Climate Impacts

Drought is one specific climate condition that can affect water resources in a variety of ways. Climate is defined as generally prevailing weather conditions. Drought is a normal reoccurring feature of climate that is defined as a period of deficient precipitation over an extended period, usually resulting in water shortages that adversely affect plants, animals, and people. The degree of departure from normal precipitation for the particular area influences drought severity along with other climatic factors such as temperatures. The key factor is a water shortage for some sectors, for example an agricultural drought results in damage to crops, resulting in loss of yield. The Kansas approach to drought is two-fold, preparedness and response.

Preparing for Drought


Water supply planning is the key to minimizing the effects of drought on the population and economy of the state. State agencies have worked with public water suppliers (PWS) to identify vulnerabilities and develop infrastructure, conservation plans, and partnerships to reduce the likelihood of running out of water during a drought. About 94% of the PWS, wholesale districts, and assurance districts have water conservation plans that include a drought contingency component. Programs are in place to release water in storage to supplement low streamflows, administrate water use at key locations when streamflows reach minimum desirable streamflow, and provide short term water sales during drought under some conditions. The goal for managing the water supply in federal reservoirs is now to keep maximum water available for times of drought. Assistance is available to PWS' to aid with technical, financial and managerial aspects of system operations, develop conservation plans and identify system losses which are all key during times of drought.


In 2016, a drought exercise was held involving water users and agencies to simulate options and mitigate drought. This was most useful for PWS' but included a range of other water uses. Work continues to develop local models to aid decision makers as they plan for droughts in the future.


Tools for efficient irrigation and water management are also available.


Response to Drought

The Kansas Drought Operations Plan provides an overview of the agencies that comprise the Team, the process, activities that lead to Kansas Drought Stage Declarations and the coordination of actions related to drought. Drought is a frequent hazard in Kansas varying in location, degree, duration and types of impacts. Planning for drought is the best way to avoid the worst impacts. Numerous sources of information and data are used in the KWO monitoring and periodic report of conditions.

The primary purpose of Kansas Drought Stage Declarations are to increase the awareness of all water users that conditions warrant efficient water use, increased monitoring of water supplies and an appropriate degree of water conservation. Under drought declarations certain permitting and operation of motor carriers transporting animal forage or feedstuffs are suspended in the affected area.  Should conditions decline enough, an emergency stage may be declared, making some additional resources available to address drought. When Kansas Drought Declarations are in effect by a Governor’s Executive Order, a map of the effected counties will be posted here.  

Drought Planning is a component of water conservation plans developed by water users and is especially important for public water supplies. Drought is also a component of the State's Hazard Mitigation Planning.

Kansas Information and Tools for Drought


Climatic Conditions:

Kansas Weather Data Library

NOAA Outlooks on Drought

NOAA Drought Monitoring

NOAA Climatological Rankings

US Drought Monitor

Climate Maps-High Plains Regional Climate Center


Drought Impacts:

National Drought Mitigation Center

KARS - The GreenReport

USDA Disaster and Drought Assistance

USDA Farm Service Agency of Kansas

FEMA - Disaster Declarations


Other Links and Sources:

For information on emergency water supplies, please call the Kansas Water Office at 785-296-3185. Staff will determine if you are eligible and direct you to the appropriate agency.

Responding to Drought: A Guide for City, County and Water System Officials



October 2018
September 2018
August 2018

July 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018

January 2018


Reports from past years - please call the office if you need years prior to what is shown

2017 Drought Reports

2016 Drought Reports
2015 Drought Reports

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
Email the Office
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