The Reclamation Drought Index: Guidelines and Practical Applications

by Karen Weghorst,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water


Drought is a familiar occurrence that lacks the drama and immediacy of other natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes, but the economic repercussions can be equally devastating. The Reclamation States Drought Assistance Act of 1988 was passed in response to the widespread drought conditions that much of the United States experienced in 1987 and 1988. The act allowed individual states to seek assistance in the form of financial aid and resource management from the federal government for the purpose of mitigating the effects of drought. The Reclamation Drought Index (RDI) was developed for possible future use as a trigger in determining when a drought is severe enough for an area to receive emergency drought relief funds from the federal government. This paper presents an example of the usage of the RDI, and the guidelines that should be followed when calculating and applying the index.

Subject Headings: Droughts | Federal government | Emergency management | Financial management | Resource management | Natural disasters | Mitigation and remediation | United States

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