FAQ & Additional Resources
Drought is a regular occurrence in many areas of the United States, including Texas. Not surprisingly, that means there are a plethora of resources available to provide information on all aspects of drought. Here are some frequently asked questions of the TWDB and additional resources to further your education and understanding of drought.
Frequently Asked Questions
Deciphering drought can be challenging. The questions and answers below will hopefully help you better understand drought, particularly in the Texas context.
How is drought measured?
The U.S. Drought Monitor assesses weekly drought conditions and is commonly relied upon to determine drought status in the state. Established in 1999, it is jointly produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center. The U.S. Drought Monitor uses a composite index incorporating measurements of climatic, hydrologic, and soil conditions, as well as reported impacts and observations from contributors throughout the country. It's updated each week on Thursdays.
How bad is the current drought?
How does Texas monitor its water supply?
Current conditions for Texas reservoirs and groundwater can be found on TWDB's Water Data for Texas website. The TWDB also hosts the TexMesonet, a statewide earth observation data collection network that provides accurate, timely data on severe weather conditions that impact floods, fire, and drought.
Where does my community get its water, and how is it preparing for drought?
If you do not know the water supplier's name in your area, you can search the TWDB's Texas Water Service Boundary Viewer to find your service provider.
You can also visit the Interactive 2022 State Water Plan for more information on projected population and water demands, existing water supplies, needs (or potential shortages during drought), and water management strategies that are included in the state water plan for your area.
Texas requires certain entities to submit drought contingency plans, which are a strategy or combination of strategies that a water supplier develops and implements to monitor and respond to a drought or other temporary water shortage. Check with your water supplier to determine if they have a plan, and if so, to view a copy of it.
What conservation rules are in effect?
Drought contingency plans are required for all retail water suppliers in Texas, but conservation efforts such as water restrictions are managed at the local level. Contact your water provider for more information on water restrictions that are in place for your area.
During periods of drought, local groundwater conservation districts may also implement conservation measures based on their drought management plans. Contact your local groundwater conservation district for more information on water restrictions that may be in effect for your area. To determine if you are in a groundwater conservation district, use the GCD Index.
Will the current drought affect the planning process?
The regional planning process considers a 50-year horizon, and each region plans against at least the most relevant, localized drought(s) of record—generally by river basin. For some river basins, that's as recent as the 2010-2014 drought; others plan for previous droughts of record such as the 1950s drought. The advantage of Texas' planning process is that each planning cycle intentionally considers new information, including related to recent droughts.
Current drought conditions may, as appropriate, be taken into consideration for the next planning cycle, but unless a current drought evolves into a new drought of record for certain areas—which would require multiple years—the planning groups would not need to change their plans since they are already planning for a more severe drought. Again, the cyclical process allows planning groups to incorporate new data and experiences or situations that become available or relevant between plans.
Why are we still seeing water shortages even though the regional planning process is in place? What is the stopgap between planning and implementing projects?
The state water plan is not an operational plan. When a drought hits, the reality on the ground varies. The plan is based on sponsors and local input, and part of the process is determining when projects will be implemented. The TWDB always encourages project sponsors to implement projects, but implementation can be influenced by many things, such as politics and budget.
The SWIFT program was created as a funding source to help entities implement their state water plan projects more quickly.
What is the TWDB's role regarding droughts?
The TWDB administers data and science, drought monitoring, water supply planning, and water infrastructure funding programs aimed primarily at preparing Texas for droughts.
The TWDB is a member of the Drought Preparedness Council and the Emergency Drinking Water Task Force, and agency staff chair two Council sub-committees: 1) Drought Monitoring and Water Supply and 2) Drought Planning and Technical Assistance. In these roles, the TWDB provides a variety of resources to assist Texans with drought response and preparedness:
- Interactive Drought Dashboard - provides weekly drought data and monthly rainfall and temperature data at the county and Hydrologic Unit Code 08 watershed level on waterdatafortexas.org/drought
- Water Weekly - a weekly publication available by email subscription that summarizes drought conditions across the state
- Drought Conditions report to the Drought Preparedness Council - monthly or quarterly (depending on the intensity and extent of drought) updates
- Texas Water Conditions report - monthly report documenting storage in state reservoirs and groundwater levels in aquifers
- Outreach - technical assistance, educational materials, and literature on water conservation
The following websites are good resources for detailed drought data and information:
- National Drought Mitigation Center
- National Integrated Drought Information System
- National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center
- U.S. Drought Portal Data Gallery
You may also be interested in knowing what you can personally do to help. The websites below provide information on how to prepare for droughts, resources to educate yourself on drought, and a link to the Water Conservation Advisory Council, a group of water conservation experts that provides water conservation resources, expertise, and progress evaluation for the benefit of state leadership, regional and local governments, and the public.