Planning Strategies and Barriers to Achieving Local Drought Preparedness

Tonya Haigh, Elliot Wickham, Samantha Hamlin, Cody Knutson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problem, research strategy, and findings: Here we describe a critical link between drought risk management and planning at the local level, the traditional lack of overlap between these fields, and current and future opportunities for addressing drought within local drought planning. We used a national survey of American Planning Association members (n = 537) to examine local planners’ perceptions of drought planning strategies and barriers, as well as their jurisdictions’ current and future drought-addressing plans. Explanatory factors included planner experience, communication with water managers and hazard planners, and factors characterizing the drought threat and capacity of their jurisdictions. We found planners most amenable to collaboration with water conservation and hazard mitigation planning processes, somewhat amenable toward integrating drought into local land use plans and day-to-day policies, and less interested in undertaking standalone drought plans. Current and future drought planning endeavors were largely driven by the threat of drought and less so by the resources found within planners’ jurisdictions. State plans and mandates played a role by requiring plans and/or providing capacity for the process. Future planning efforts may be limited by the barriers planners perceive. Funding, in terms of local tax resources, does not appear to restrict where drought planning has taken place to date. Planners’ perceptions of leadership, political will, data, and coordination across jurisdictions as barriers are lessened through experience, communication with water managers and/or hazard planners, and state mitigation plans. Takeaway for practice: Preparing for future drought impacts may require communities to adopt mitigation actions through local planning processes. Local planners may prefer to address drought through water and hazard plans, but land use plans and standalone plans may also be important tools for effective mitigation where drought poses a threat. Some of the barriers that planners face may be reduced through experience and communication with water and hazard planners, as well as their states’ engagement in statewide drought mitigation plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-362
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Planning Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • capacity
  • drought threat
  • hazard mitigation
  • land use
  • water conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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