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AWRA Policy Statements


Flood and Drought
Approved by The Board of Directors of the American Water Resources Association at their January 27-28, 2017 meeting, as proposed by the Policy Committee of AWRA

Position Statement: In recognition that flood and drought frequently occur at great cost to society, the American Water Resources Association recommends that communities overall-as well as mayors, city councils, and legislatures specifically-prepare themselves for these events.

Background: Our recommendation is that negative impacts are best mitigated by integrated preparation for both flood and drought events. Such preparations include the following.

Develop and/or strengthen partnerships. Establish or enhance:

  1. coordination between public agencies and researchers to gather and process information and to ensure the results are publicly available and used to enhance public awareness;
  2. partnerships between actors with roles in mitigation, response, and recovery; and
  3. frameworks for engaging new sectors, such as public health or finance, during integrated preparation for management of extreme flows.

Information Gathering and Synthesis. Determine:

  1. the extent to which every community is vulnerable and how;
  2. which hydrometeorologic, hydrologic, hydraulic, or other conditions indicate differing stages of emergency;
  3. the historic location of impact by floods or droughts, and how changes in land use or land cover in watersheds-including upstream impervious surface and geomorphology-may change the location, strength or duration of floods or droughts, floodways, and flood discharge;
  4. what are the past and future economic, social, environmental, and other impacts of these events; and
  5. what new extremes may be expected based upon the best available climate science and where these are most likely to have special effect.

Designing Resiliency into Our Community Planning. Ensure:

  1. alternate and redundant sources of water through use of conservation, water treatment, development and other strategies;
  2. regional technical support for small municipalities; and
  3. innovation in adopting and implementing policies, procedures, regulations, and zoning that allow flexibility while protecting human health, social systems, economic systems, the built environment, and natural systems, including floodplains, wetlands, and upland forested areas.

Communication and Education. Encourage:

  1. education of flood and drought risk at primary and secondary educational institutions, as well as to the general public;
  2. financial institutions to engage stakeholders as to risk and incentives;
  3. simulation training for emergency managers and first responders; and
  4. the use of procedures and communication avenues to coordinate emergency managers and public information prior and during an extreme event.
If you have questions about any of the above policy statements, please feel free to contact AWRA.