AWWA calls for better drought forecasting and management

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has called on state and local governments to work with their community water suppliers to prepare for possible water shortages this summer.

Very dry weather and serious drought conditions are expected across the South and Midwest and have already begun in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Arizona.

The AWWA says that despite being able to predict upcoming water shortages, states and municipalities are failing to plan for droughts or to inform consumers about the severity of the situation.

The Association says that insufficient communication and co-ordination exacerbates the impact of the drought for both community water suppliers, who face a lack of supply, and consumers, who must then deal with water use restrictions.

In its work on national drought management planning, AWWA recommended communities take the following actions to improve their response to drought:

  • encourage better water efficiency. The AWWA says that simply curtailing residential water use in times of drought is only a short-term, partial solution because residential use accounts for less than 10% of water drawn from supplies. Therefore, all water consumers – farmers, ranchers and businesses as well as households – must use water more efficiently throughout the year
  • improve consumer communication – greater emphasis must be given to informing all consumers about upcoming water shortages and the need for efficient water use
  • improved co-ordination of drought management planning throughout community. Once water suppliers inform government officials of the need for drought management, community water suppliers as well as all agricultural, industrial and domestic water users must be properly informed of their roles and obligations under it. They must also understand that violating the drought management plan carries penalties, and what those penalties are

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