The CWCB’s Drought Planning Toolbox is designed to assist water users throughout the state with their efforts in planning and response to a drought.
Explore the toolbox to find drought information and data, as well as a comprehensive suite of planning resources and tools.
- Drought Status & Monitoring
Planning for and managing drought in Colorado requires diligent monitoring of a variety of dynamic water availability and climate factors in order to gauge the severity of drought. The severity of droughts is directly related to the following:
- Magnitude (how large the water deficits are in comparison with historic averages)
- Duration (how long the drought lasts)
- Areal Extent (what area is impacted by the drought)
There are a number of tools and resources that are available to help water resource managers and planners assess drought severity so they can effectively administer their systems and meet user needs. These resources include:
- Water Availability Task Force
- Drought Status Reports - Drought Updates, NRCS Water/Climate Updates, Drought Impact Reporter
- NIDIS Drought Portal
- Drought Indices - (US Drought Monitor, Palmer Drought Severity Index, Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI), Standard Precipitation Index
- Water Supply Monitoring Measurements - Precipitation, Snowpack, Streamflow, Reservoir Storage, Temperature, Evapo-Transpiration, Soil Moisture
- Long Term Forecasts
- Financial Assistance
- Drought Planning Resources
Drought management planning includes the development of drought mitigation measures to help reduce or avoid drought impacts when a drought occurs and a drought response plan to implement when a drought is officially declared. The CWCB has developed the Municipal Drought Management Plan Guidance Document and the Sample of a Municipal Drought Management Plan that municipal water providers and local governments may use as reference tools in developing local drought management plans.
- Drought & Climate Change
The hydrology and water resources of Colorado are extremely sensitive to climate. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency of drought events in Colorado. Warmer temperatures will likely result in precipitation occurring as rain rather than snow, earlier spring melt, more intense precipitation events, and increased evapotranspiration. Thus, there will be reduced late spring and early summer flows and longer draw-down periods for reservoirs. This could increase the vulnerability of water resource systems during intense or persistent drought. While such vulnerability may be somewhat buffered in large water systems by robustness and resilience in the design, smaller systems may be extremely vulnerable under climate scenarios not considered in their original design.
How could Climate Change Impact Colorado?
Current climate models project that Colorado will warm by 2.5°F by 2025 and 4°F by 2050. Summers months will likely experience a greater temperature increase than winter months. Warmer temperatures in the summer will affect evaporation rates in Colorado’s rivers, streams, and reservoirs and potentially reduce the available water supply.