State Water Planning and Drought

With the passage of Senate Bill 1 in 1997 and Senate Bill 2 in 2001, the Texas Legislature called for drought response to be an essential part of water planning in Texas. Texas’ long-range water planning process requires that the sixteen regional planning groups consider the drought contingency plans of the region’s water suppliers and also consider drought management as a potential strategy to meet water needs.

Although state law recognizes and even encourages drought management as a way to meet water demands, only a few of the 2011 regional water plans include the water saved through drought management as a water supply strategy. Water planners are directed to ensure that enough water is available to meet water needs during a drought of record. Failing to include drought management as a water supply strategy leads to overbuilding and overdeveloping water supplies.

Trying to meet all water demands during the worst drought results in overbuilding of water supplies as well as treatment and distribution infrastructure. This overbuilding comes at great expense to the rate-payer, the taxpayer, and the environment.

Ultimately, this means our long-range plans do not reflect reality. Drought management is required by state law, widely accepted by water utilities, and is commonly practiced during times of shortage. Therefore, it only makes sense to include the savings available from drought management in the state’s long-range plans.

Drought Contingency Planning

Water utilities across the state prepare for droughts by developing tactical plans, called drought contingency plans, to reduce peak demands and extend water supplies during a drought.

Drought in Texas

Droughts are, and will continue to be, a fact of life in Texas. A drought occurs when there is a lack of adequate precipitation over an extended period of time. Some part of the state is likely to be in a year-long drought once every three years.

Get Involved

Learn how you can help at home, in your community and at the state level to improve the way Texas responds to drought.

Learning from the Current Drought

For many municipalities and water suppliers, the severe drought conditions encountered in 2011 highlighted the inadequacy of existing drought management policies and the need to significantly improve response strategies before the next inevitable drought.

Protecting Rivers During Drought

Water supply projects such as dams, pipelines and pumps that are over-sized to meet peak demand, which could be significantly reduced during drought, negatively impact the health of our rivers, bays, fish and wildlife.

Saving Money and Water During Drought

While droughts can be economically damaging for a region, particularly in agricultural areas, effective drought response planning can help a region prepare for droughts and minimize a drought's economic impact.

Useful Links and Resources

Useful links to additional information on drought and drought response planning.

Water Conservation or Drought Response?

The difference between water conservation and drought response is that water conservation is an on-going effort, whereas drought response is a short-term response to a water supply shortage.