Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on April 24, 2023 
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on June 9, 2023
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2023


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):

  • Supports the development of regional drought preparedness and response plans by water supply agencies providers in cooperation with local, state, and federal agencies. Plans should be based on sound engineering principles and assessments. The regional drought preparedness and response plans should focus on balancing land use, social equity, environmental, economic, and water supply risk considerations.
  • Recommends that water supply agencies, their sponsoring government entities, and interested parties be responsible for the development of regional water supply plans. Water supply agencies should be responsible for implementation locally.
  • Supports research planning, implementation, and management efforts to enhance resiliency to address increasing severity of future droughts.
  • Recommends that federal and state governments encourage and support technical and financial assistance to water supply agencies in the development of regional drought preparedness and response plans.


Drought can cause widespread and significant negative economic, social, health, and environmental impacts. All regions of the country have experienced drought. A changing climate may result in an increase in the frequency, duration, and severity of drought in certain areas. Drought preparedness and response plans are required to mitigate the negative economic, social, health, and environmental impacts caused by a lack of adequate water. A coordinated, cooperative, and communicative water management strategy among water supply agencies that rely on common or connected water resources, which includes robust data analysis, planning and implementation will serve to mitigate these impacts.

Plans and strategies for dealing with inadequate water supplies must be developed. Drought preparedness and response plans identify the impact of water shortages on all uses, including public water supply, agriculture, industry, hydropower, navigation, water-based recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality. Alternatives for avoiding identified impacts must be developed and evaluated. Where possible, such plans should include public outreach and education campaigns for users of public and private water systems and private well owners.

Local and regional water supply agencies, with coordination and assistance from state and federal government agencies, should develop drought preparedness and response plans. The plans should consider practices such as water conservation programs, water use restrictions, financial incentives, water reuse, water transfers, conjunctive use, water-banking, sustainability tactics, increased water storage, source water protection, and local sharing of supplies and facilities. Local and regional water supply agencies are best prepared to conduct risk assessments, to develop and implement public outreach and education programs, and to seek meaningful local input and discussion.


Much has been done by civil engineers to develop and manage water supplies to reduce the vulnerability to drought. No single organization can manage water during drought solely within its purview. Only through robust data analysis, planning, implementation, and a coordinated response can local entities effectively respond to water demands during periods of drought.

ASCE Policy Statement 408
First Approved in 1993