Drought Preparation Is Key By Mark A. Crookston, PE, D.WRE, CAIS, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA

Drought is a shortage of water, particularly a period of little or no precipitation. Whether short or long term, drought can create significant difficulties for municipal water providers, agricultural producers and the landscape industry. In turn, those difficulties affect the lives of countless more individuals. Preparing for drought is both prudent and necessary. Such preparations can help mitigate the severity and extent of drought impacts.

Drought-like conditions can occur whenever water demands exceed the available supply. Increased conservation is also needed to close the gap between both current and future demands and with available supplies — not just during periods of drought.

Key Aspects of Preparedness

Key aspects of drought preparedness include:

• Increasing awareness and education. • Establishing priorities and procedures to be followed during drought.

• Developing needed tools and processes to reduce water needs and conserve dwindling supplies.

Implementing regulations during drought to control water use can be effective in curtailing demands for water and its use. However, regulations may not always foster true water conservation, which is the wise use of water to realize and maintain desired

26 Irrigation TODAY | April 2017 Multistream multitrajectory rotating sprinklers on bluegrass

benefits, both individually and by society in general.

The first aspect of creating public awareness and providing educational opportunities can be likened to “blowing the horn and beating the drum.” These efforts need to capture the attention and interest of people across a wide spectrum of society. This increased awareness can encourage individuals to voluntarily make changes in their own priorities and practices, such as acquiring water-efficient appliances, taking shorter showers, waiting for full loads to run dishwashers and fixing wasteful leaks. Support for such changes can be enabled by the drought planning and preparations made by municipal and state governments. However, more will be needed to effect significant conservation in the agricultural and landscape industries.


Irrigated agriculture continues to have great importance to our society by more reliably producing higher yields per acre on average. This key contribution to the food supply and other vital industries is significant and is literally irreplaceable. Efficient systems for the irrigation of agricultural crops have been developed and continue to be improved. New and emerging technologies are providing enhanced tools and capabilities. These include drip and microirrigation methods, controlled deficit irrigation procedures,

in-field sensor networks, automated irrigation systems capable of real-time adjustments and more. Support for efficient agricultural production is largely market-driven and encompassed by myriad regulations and court proceedings concerning water rights. Such constraints can undermine, delay and/or nullify the adoption of improved technologies and efforts toward drought preparedness. However, drought can be a great instigator for change. Continued implementation of advanced technologies will advance true conservation and bolster long-term production from irrigated agriculture.

Pop-up spray sprinkler

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