Characterizing the potential for drought action from combined hydrological and societal perspectives
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Characterizing the potential for drought action from combined hydrological and societal perspectives

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  • Journal Title:
    Hydrology Earth System Sciences
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  • Description:
    Drought is a function of both natural and human influences, but fully characterizing the interactions between human and natural influences on drought remains challenging. To better characterize parts of the drought feedback loop, this study combines hydrological and societal perspectives to characterize and quantify the potential for drought action. For the hydrological perspective, we examine historical groundwater data, from which we determine the decadal likelihoods of exceeding hydrologic thresholds relevant to different water uses. Stakeholder interviews yield data about how people rate the importance of water for different water uses. We combine these to quantify the Potential Drought Action Indicator (PDAI). The PDAI is demonstrated for a study site in south-central Oklahoma, where water availability is highly influenced by drought and management of water resources is contested by local stakeholders. For the hydrological perspective, we find that the historical decadal likelihood of exceedance for a moderate threshold associated with municipal supply has ranged widely: from 23 % to 75 %, which corresponds well with natural drought variability in the region. For the societal perspective, stakeholder interviews reveal that people value water differently for various uses. Combining this information into the PDAI illustrates that potential drought action increases as the hydrologic threshold is exceeded more often; this occurs as conditions get drier and when water use thresholds are more moderate. The PDAI also shows that for water uses where stakeholders have diverse views of importance, the PDAI will be diverse as well, and this is exacerbated under drier conditions. The variability in stakeholder views of importance is partially explained by stakeholders' cultural worldviews, pointing to some implications for managing water when drought risks threaten. We discuss how the results can be used to reduce potential disagreement among stakeholders and promote sustainable water management, which is particularly important for planning under increasing drought.
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    Hydrology Earth System Sciences, 23, 1469–1482
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    CC BY
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