The goal of Alabama's drought planning and management process is to ensure accurate and consistent information concerning hydrologic and drought conditions, impacts, and forecasts around the state. Further, through the use of an extensive communication and coordination process and state Drought Declarations, ADECA's Office of Water Resources (OWR) helps water managers, stakeholders, and other users understand where and how severe drought conditions exist and the best available information concerning forecasted changes.
(Photo: Pier at Lake Martin in 2007)
Click here for the most recent Drought Declaration.
Click here for the most recent Drought Impact Summary.
Click here to access the Drought GIS Portal.
The Alabama Drought Planning and Response Act (Code of Ala. 1975, §§9-10C-1 et seq.) became law on April 9, 2014. The Act formally establishes state government’s role in planning, monitoring, and responding to severely dry conditions.
The law replaces a previously issued executive order, establishes the Alabama Drought Assessment and Planning Team (ADAPT), and defines permanent roles for OWR and other state agencies by:
- Codifying the current organizational structure including the ADAPT to advise the Governor on state activities related to droughts, and the Monitoring and Impact Group (MIG) as an ADAPT subcommittee to develop technical assessments of drought conditions and impacts.
- The ADAPT advises the Governor and OWR about state activities related to droughts with information developed by the Monitoring and Impact Group that collects and analyzes stream-flow levels, rainfall, soil moisture and other drought-related data. The ADAPT is made up of representatives from various state and federal agencies and appointees as outlined in the Alabama Drought Planning Organizational Structure section below.
- Codifying the charge given to OWR to develop and maintain a state drought plan and issue Drought Declarations.
- Clarifying the role of the Alabama State Climatologist.
- Reaffirming the Governor's role in responding to drought related events; and
- Ensuring that adequate information concerning the supply and demand of water is available for the assessment of conditions.
To access a copy of the Act, click here.
The text is located in the Code of Alabama at Title 9, Chapter 10C.
To access a copy of the ADECA regulations promulgated in support of the Act, click here.
The text is located at Chapter 305-7-13.
Alabama Drought Assessment and Planning Team (ADAPT)
The purpose of the ADAPT is to provide guidance and make recommendations on drought-related matters to the Governor and the ADECA Office of Water Resources (OWR), as necessary, and to coordinate intergovernmental drought response, management, and implementation of all drought related activities. It works in coordination with input from its technical subcommittee, the Monitoring and Impact Group (MIG).
ADAPT is composed of the following members:
OWR Division Chief
||ADECA Office of Water Resources|
||Alabama Emergency Management Agency|
||Alabama Dept of Environmental Management|
|Major General Perry Smith
||Alabama Army National Guard|
|The Honorable John McMillan
||Alabama Dept of Agriculture and Industries|
|N. Gunter Guy, Jr.
||Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources|
Interim State Forester
||Alabama Forestry Commission|
|Dr. Berry H. "Nick" Tew, Jr.
||Geological Survey of Alabama|
|Dr. John R. Christy
||Alabama Office of the State Climatologist|
||ADAPT Monitoring and Impact Group (MIG)|
||Choctawhatchee, Pea, and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority|
|Dr. William "Bill" Puckett
||Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC)|
||USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Alabama|
Alabama Forestry Association
Monitoring and Impact Group (MIG)
The MIG, the technical subcommittee of ADAPT, is responsible for monitoring all available climate and hydrological data and forecasts (i.e. rainfall data, stream flows, reservoir storage levels, groundwater levels, soil moisture readings, etc.) and analyzing the information in order to assess both the current level of drought conditions and the impacts from those conditions. The information and assessment is then used in recommending changes to OWR for the Alabama Drought Declaration.
The MIG consists of agency representatives, reservoir operators, public water system managers, water use sector representatives and other stakeholders. The chairman of this group is appointed by the OWR Division Chief.
The current Chairman is Mr. Charles Stover with the Alabama Power Company.
Alabama Drought Plan
The purpose of the Alabama Drought Plan is to establish state-level operating procedures and a framework for the assessment of drought conditions, assist stakeholders and water managers in mitigating drought conditions and encourage water conservation practices. The Plan also outlines an organizational structure to facilitate the exchanges of data and information as well as interagency and organizational coordination.
In order to accomplish these goals the plan:
- Defines a process to address drought and drought-related activities, such as, monitoring, vulnerability assessment, mitigation, impact assessment, and response;
- Identifies long- and short-term activities that can be implemented to reduce and prevent drought impacts;
- Identifies local, state, federal and private sector entities that are involved with state drought management and defines their responsibilities; and
- Acts as a catalyst for creation and implementation of local drought and response efforts.
There is no way to prevent a drought from occurring, however, the effects of a drought can be reduced significantly through public awareness and local planning activities. That is why Alabama encourages proactive local drought planning efforts. This involves a thorough assessment by each entity or organization that uses water that looks at water sources and alternatives, water use and sustainability options including water reuse, and establishing and implementing contingency plans, such as, defining specific action levels, appropriate water conservation measures, or designating alternative water sources.
Please contact us with any comments or suggestions on the state Drought Management Plan or if you have specific drought-related impacts.
The following information contains links to relevant drought condition indicators and other information. For specific information related to how these indicators are used in Alabama's drought planning and response process, please refer to the Alabama Drought Plan.
OWR GIS Mapping Portal
OWR is using GIS tools and technology to help better understand and display water resources and drought-related information. To access the portal, click here.
US Drought Portal (Drought.Gov)
For information related to national drought conditions, resources, and information, click here.
For the current Drought Monitor Map for Alabama, click here.
Public Water System Drought Planning Resources
The following information is provided to help local public water systems and providers with drought planning and response activities.
Community Public Water System Drought Conservation Plans – Under the Alabama Drought Planning and Response Act, all community public water systems are required to have a drought conservation plan and submit a copy to the Alabama Office of Water Resources by December 31, 2016. The plan can be either a stand-alone plan or a component of a broader all hazards planning document. To assist in the development of such plans, the following example plans are provided for systems that have different sources of water:
Surface Water Supplied System – The Waterworks and Sewer Board of the City of Gadsden submitted an excellent plan for a surface water system that meets all necessary requirements of the Alabama Drought Planning and Response Act. This plan sets parameters based on system capacity and overall system storage as key triggers in its decision making process. OWR recommends that surface water community public water systems that are developing a Drought Conservation Plan review this plan as a template. A copy is available here.
Groundwater Supplied System – Daphne Utilities submitted an excellent Drought Conservation Plan for a groundwater system that meets all necessary requirements of the Alabama Drought Planning and Response Act. This plan sets parameters on pumping capacity as well as overall system pressure as key triggers in its decision making process. A copy is available here.
Comprehensive Plan - The Smiths Water and Sewer Authority submitted a Drought Conservation Plan that lists ways it will coordinate drought response activities with various stakeholders and is a great example of what systems should do as response to drought. The Smiths Water and Sewer Authority’s Plan lists detailed restrictions for customers and detailed checklist for water system personnel to follow. OWR recommends that all systems currently developing a Drought Conservation Plan review this plan for concepts related to developing staged water plans and for developing a plan to discuss the plan with water users. A copy is available here.
Alabama Climate Information
Agriculture and Drought
Soil Moisture Conditions
Reservoir System Conditions
Current Streamflows Web Links (All courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS))
Note: The USGS Hydro-Climatic Data Network (HDCN) is a subset of all USGS stream gages where streamflow conditions primarily reflect climatic variations; that is, streamflow conditions are minimally affected by human disturbance. Although most of the stream gages reflect some level of human activity, total water extractions or diversions at HCDN sites are generally less than five percent of the mean annual discharge.
Below Normal 7-Day Average Streamflow
Below Normal 14-Day Average Streamflow
Below Normal 28-Day Average Streamflow
Below Normal Monthly Average Streamflow
Site Duration Hydrograph (Streamflow)
State Duration Hydrograph (Runoff)
Record Low Flow Map
Current Groundwater Information Web Links
Alabama has over 77,000 miles of rivers and streams and has been historically blessed with a general abundance of both surface and groundwater resources. However, recent droughts have emphasized the importance of the conservation of this valuable resource. By practicing some of the water saving tips listed below, each of us can do our part to ensure an adequate supply of fresh water for ourselves and future generations. In addition, water conservation practices will not only help save our water supplies, but it also can save you money.
The following information is provides general suggestions and ideas to use water, both indoors and outdoors, as efficiently as possible.
- Use low-flow toilets.
- Use flow aerators on faucets.
- Take shorter showers.
- Use your dishwater and clothes washer only when you have a full load.
- Do not use running water to thaw meat and other frozen foods.
- Don't let water run while shaving, brushing your teeth or washing your face.
- Water your lawn only when necessary. It takes 660 gallons of water to supply 1,000 square feet of lawn with 1 inch of water. (This is almost the same amount as you use inside the house in an entire week.) As a general rule, established lawns do not need to be watered more often than every five to seven days.
- Water lawns early in the morning when temperatures and wind speeds are lowest.
- Don't allow sprinklers to water your street, driveway or sidewalk.
- During dry weather, raise the height of your mower so that you are cutting grass at the highest recommended height. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.
- Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Fertilizer applications increase the need for water.
- Use mulch around trees and shrubs and in garden beds to retain moisture in the soil.
- Do not use the hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk.
- Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose so that water flows only as needed.
- Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended.
- If you wash your car, park it on the grass and use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
Water Conservation Tips
EPA provides general information on a wide range of water conservation ideas and concepts through the WaterSense program.
The h2Ouse Water Saver Home takes you on a tour to investigate your water saving opportunities in each area of your home.
The Home Advisor Water Conservation Throughout the Home website provides a wide range of ideas and resources on residential water use.
Backyard Conservation shows you how conservation practices that are used on agricultural land across the country to conserve and improve natural resources can be adapted for use on the land around your home.
The EPA's Water Conservation Plan Guidelines contain step-by-step approaches and conservation measures that can be used by water system planners to develop and implement plans for water conservation.
Phone: (334) 242-5499
Toll free: 1-877-ALA WATER (1-877-252-9283)