Multisectoral analysis of drought impacts and management responses to the 2008–2015 record drought in the Colorado Basin, Texas

Ferencz, Stephen B.; Sun, Ning; Turner, Sean W. D.; Smith, Brian A.; Rice, Jennie S.

Drought has long posed an existential threat to society. Engineering and technological advancements have enabled the development of complex, interconnected water supply systems that buffer societies from the impacts of drought, enabling growth and prosperity. However, increasing water demand from population growth and economic development, combined with more extreme and prolonged droughts due to climate change, poses significant challenges for governments in the 21st century. Improved understanding of the cascading multisectoral impacts and adaptive responses resulting from extreme drought can aid in adaptive planning and highlight key processes in modeling drought impacts. The record drought spanning 2008 to 2015 in the Colorado Basin in the state of Texas, United States, serves as an outstanding illustration to assess multisectoral impacts and responses to severe, multi-year drought. The basin faces similar water security challenges to those across the western US, such as groundwater depletion and sustainability, resource competition between agriculture and growing urban populations, limited options for additional reservoir expansion, and the heightened risk of more severe and frequent droughts due to climate change. By analyzing rich, high-quality data sourced from nine different local, state, and federal sources, we demonstrate that characterizing regional multisector dynamics is crucial to predicting and understanding future vulnerability and possible approaches to reduce impacts to human and natural systems in the face of extreme drought conditions. This review reveals that, despite the severe hydrometeorological conditions of the drought, the region's advanced economy and existing water infrastructure effectively mitigated economic and societal impacts.

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Ferencz, Stephen B. / Sun, Ning / Turner, Sean W. D. / et al: Multisectoral analysis of drought impacts and management responses to the 2008–2015 record drought in the Colorado Basin, Texas. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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