Water Resources Center

Drought Background

Drought planning is action taken by individual citizens, industry, government, and others in advance of water shortages to mitigate some of the impacts and conflicts associated with its occurrence.

The State Water Resources Plan (RSMo 640.415), which is a provision of the Water Resources Law enacted by the Missouri Legislature in 1989, requires the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure that the quality and quantity of Missouri's water resources are maintained at the highest possible level to support present and future beneficial uses.

The provision was established to provide for the development, maintenance and periodic updating of a long-range, comprehensive statewide plan for the use of surface and groundwater. It includes existing and future requirements for drinking water supplies, agriculture, industry, recreation, environmental protection and related needs.

The department is responsible for collecting data, making surveys, conducting investigations and providing recommendations concerning the social, economic and environmental water resources needs of the state.

Water quality and availability affects the well being of all Missouri citizens. When water quality is good and the supply is plentiful, the two critical factors, quality and quantity, are often taken for granted. But when good water becomes a scarce commodity and people must compete for the available supply, then the importance of these two factors increases dramatically. Quite often, only a few water users are critically affected but in cases of severe and prolonged drought, everyone may be affected.

The primary purpose of the Missouri Drought Response Plan  is to address the need for coordinated advanced emergency planning. It complements and supports the State Consolidated Plan and the State Emergency Operations Plan. Oftentimes we are reactive when it comes to disaster response. The drought response plan outlines proactive emergency and tactical measures designed to better prepare us for drought. It is a drought response plan and does not eliminate the need for long range strategic planning, which would address the bigger issue of drought impact avoidance.

This plan is the result of Midwest drought data collection and evaluation work done by DNR's Water Resources Center staff. Ideas were "brainstormed" over a period of several months to formulate a drought plan that fits Missouri. It is modeled, in part, on the Kentucky Drought Response Plan.

During the preparation of this plan, input was solicited from various water management programs within the department, and from the Missouri departments of: Agriculture, Conservation, Economic Development, Health, and Public Safety.

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