13th Conference on Applied Climatology and the 10th Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology

Monday, 13 May 2002
The impact of drought on municipal water supplies in Kentucky: A case study from the drought of 19992001
Stuart A. Foster, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
Though Kentucky normally receives ample precipitation to meet its needs for water, periodic drought raises concerns about the adequacy of municipal water supplies. These concerns are magnified in areas experiencing economic development and population growth as well as areas with limited access to water resources. The recent drought that affected Kentucky from 1999 through 2001 provides an opportunity to evaluate the vulnerability of municipal water supplies to severe drought. Drought conditions developed an intensified across Kentucky in the summer of 1999. While conditions improved in some areas over the following year, the drought persisted at moderate to severe levels in many areas throughout 2000 and well into 2001. In historical perspective, the drought was the worst to affect many areas of Kentucky since the 1950s.

This research examines the recent drought and its impacts on municipal water supplies. The purpose is generally to understand how municipal water supplies across Kentucky were affected by evolving drought conditions and specifically to identify areas where supplies proved particularly vulnerable to drought. The analysis integrates two perspectives. The first views drought as a meteorological phenomenon. Exploratory data analysis and data visualization techniques are applied to spatial time-series of monthly precipitation from the National Climatic Data Center. These techniques are used to reveal localized spatial and temporal variations in the intensity of the drought. The second perspective views drought as a socioeconomic phenomenon. Two data sources provided by the Kentucky Division of Water are used. One is a georeferenced database containing information about the locations and characteristics of water sources used by municipal water suppliers. The second is a series of Drought Summary Reports. These reports provide the information necessary to document the spatial diffusion of the drought through its impacts on municipal water supplies. Finally, the diffusion of the municipal drought is analyzed with respect to the context of the meteorological drought. Results provide information to support development planning across Kentucky.

Supplementary URL: