Droughts occur throughout North America and in any year at least one region is experiencing drought conditions. We usually don't think of droughts in the same way as other natural disasters, such as floods or hurricanes. For example, no one knows for sure how severe a drought will be - until the rains return. But droughts can be more costly than other natural disasters.
Prepare for a drought
In general, adopt or change to practices, techniques, and equipment that use less on water or work well regardless of drought conditions before you need them. This make drought conditions easier to bear and help reduce demand on existing supplies.
- Install lawn or garden irrigation systems that deliver water most effectively, such as drip hoses instead of above-ground sprinklers.
- Water the lawns and gardens in the early morning or evening to minimize evaporation.
- Use lawn and garden plants that are native, or that do well under a wide variety of conditions and require less watering to thrive.
- In kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, use water-efficient fixtures so you will need less later on.
Schools use a tremendous amount of water every day, and require water for their heating and cooling systems, restrooms, drinking water faucets, locker rooms, cafeteria, laboratories, and outdoor playing fields and lawns. More information about how schools can adopt measure to reduce their use of water.
Drought Response and Recovery for Water Utilities. Find worksheets, best practices, videos, and key resources for responding to drought emergencies and building long-term resilience.
Ways to improve water efficiency:
WaterSense helps consumers, businesses, or communities identify water-efficient products and programs. Look for the WaterSense label to identify products and programs that save water, save money (year round), and promote innovative manufacturing.
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During a drought
Always observe state and local restrictions on water use during a drought. If restricted, for example, do not water your lawn, wash your car, or other non-essential activities, to help ensure there is enough water for essential or emergency uses. Contact your state or local government for current information and more suggestions.
Apply chemical pesticides and fertilizers carefully - read the label. Chemicals, especially those applied in dry form, can stay dry in a drought and be blown by the wind to sensitive areas. If over-applied, they can accumulate and eventually wash away in concentrated amounts when the drought ends, possibly causing greater harm. Always follow the directions on the pesticide label. More about pesticides, health, and safety.
Be aware of dust-related health problems. Extended periods of dry weather can increase dust or other fine particles in the air we breathe, and possibly cause or worsen existing health problems. How air-borne particle pollution (smoke, soot) affects health.
A drought can make hot weather feel even more severe. Be sure you are prepared to protect yourself and others during hot, dry spells. More about extreme heat.
More about drought
How higher temperatures relate to drier conditions and wildfires.