Local Drought Planning

While the original Colorado’s Drought Mitigation and Response Plan (DMRP) from 1981 was nationally recognized as a model for state government to assess and respond to drought, it was not originally intended to address mitigation or local water supply and demand management issues.The DMRP was updated in 2007 and 2010 to comply with revised FEMA and EMAP guidelines. The 2013 revision includes an updated vulnerability assessment and a revised response framework following the State's response to the drought beginning in 2011.  

Although the following content highlights municipal drought planning, the CWCB recognizes the need for Agricultural drought planning. Estimates from the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) show that 85% to 89% of the water diverted and consumed in Colorado goes to irrigate crops. Agriculture is vulnerable to drought when there is not enough water to sustain those crops or livestock. The Agriculture Sector is a key economic driver in Colorado, and some form of agriculture activity is found in nearly every county in the State. The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) estimates the value of grown, processed, and marketed agricultural products to be $15 billion annually. Impacts from drought are not confined to a single growing season. As a year-round industry, the Agriculture Sector influences a number of other sectors of the economy and state, namely municipal and socioeconomic. The following are resources for Agricultural drought planning.

What Is a Drought Mitigation Plan?
A drought mitigation plan defines when a drought-induced water supply shortage exists and specifies the actions that should be taken in response. The main objective is to preserve essential public services and minimize the adverse effects of a water supply emergency on public health and safety, economic activity, environmental resources and individual lifestyles. Most important in developing a drought plan is to determine the actions and procedures for responding to a drought-related water supply shortage before an actual water supply emergency occurs.

What Is the Difference between Drought Mitigation Planning and Water Conservation Planning?
It is common for the public, and even for water providers, to confuse drought mitigation planning and water conservation planning. ­
  • The goal of drought mitigation planning is to ensure an uninterrupted supply of water in an amount sufficient to satisfy essential needs. Drought response measures can include mandatory restrictions on certain water uses, water allocation or the temporary use of an alternative water supply. These measures are intended to be temporary responses to water supply shortages. ­
  • The goal of water conservation planning is to achieve lasting, long-term improvements in water use efficiency. Water conservation measures can include managing landscape irrigation, implementing conservation water rate structures, replacing or retrofitting water fixtures and similar efforts.
How to Develop a Drought Mitigation Plan
Any entity, including any municipality, agency, special district or privately or publicly owned utility or other state or local governmental entity, may submit a drought mitigation plan to the CWCB Office of Water Conservation and Drought Planning (OWCDP) for review and approval. The drought mitigation plan will be reviewed in compliance with the Guidelines for the Office to Review and Evaluate Drought Mitigation Plans.

The CWCB has developed a Drought Planning Toolbox to help water providers in their efforts to develop drought mitigation plans. In addition to providing current drought status data and other drought information, the Toolbox includes a comprehensive suite of planning resources and tools for local water providers to use when developing drought mitigation plans.

The CWCB also provides Drought Mitigation Planning Grants to assist water providers or state and local governmental entities in developing drought mitigation and response plans.