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.

November 2017- 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

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Topeka, Kansas 66612
Phone: 785-296-3185
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