2a.1 Synthesizing diverse stakeholder needs for a drought early warning information system in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin

Monday, 18 July 2011: 1:30 PM
Salon C1 (Asheville Renaissance)
Lisa S. Darby, NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO; and C. McNutt, K. T. Ingram, P. N. Knox, C. J. Martinez, D. F. Zierden, R. S. Pulwarty, and J. Verdin

From fall 2009 to fall 2010 the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program Office coordinated several stakeholder meetings in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin, which extends from Georgia into Alabama and Florida. The purpose of the meetings was to ascertain which products and services are needed by basin stakeholders for drought early warning. Drought vulnerabilities across the basin are quite diverse – from changes in salinity that harm oyster bed productivity in Apalachicola Bay, to the health of crops in the agricultural fields of the Flint River basin, to municipal water supply issues for the city of Atlanta and smaller communities along the tributaries. These, and many other vulnerabilities, exist against a backdrop of decades-long water allocation litigation among the three states.

The benefits of these stakeholder meetings went beyond information gathering by serving as opportunities for communication across state lines among people with differing needs and perspectives regarding water management decisions in the basin. The meetings also provided a good opportunity for stakeholders from all three states to share lessons learned from various management perspectives during the drought that affected the basin from 2006 to 2009.

Common issues and needs identified from all regions of the basin include:

(1) Education and Communication - People across the basin agree that education and communication regarding drought needs improvement (e.g., definition of drought, sector-specific impacts)

(2) Improved interactions with the US Army Corps of Engineers (e.g., increased data sharing and opportunities for communication between the Corps and other stakeholders)

(3) Data – easier access to real-time calibrated and quality-controlled data

(4) ACF Basin-wide webinars and climate outlooks

(5) Drought Index - Can a basin-wide drought index be established?

(6) Resolve perceived discrepancies regarding groundwater (How much groundwater is withdrawn, how frequently should withdrawals be recorded, can we improve groundwater modeling?)

(7) Presentation of Information - Basin-scale graphics available from one web site with historical context

Updates on the progress made on thus far on establishing a drought early warning information system for the ACF Basin will be presented.

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