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cover of report has picture of people at tables during the tournament, logos from Bureau of Reclamation and Oklahoma Water Resources Board

This report provides an overview of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) sponsored Oklahoma Water Supply Reliability and Management Challenge (Drought Challenge).

Natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and drought are a natural occurrence throughout the world and effective mitigation and response planning is necessary to minimize the negative impacts associated with these events. In addition to planning, exercises used to test established plans have proven to be an effective means to ensure preparedness. Such exercises may entail the simulation of a natural hazard, requiring participants to implement and test the plan.

Droughts, due to their typically slow onset lasting months or years and multi-sector impacts, are challenging to address under the typical emergency exercise framework. The concept of a drought challenge forum was introduced as an alternate means of engaging preparedness for drought in Oklahoma. There are key differences between a challenge forum and an exercise. The challenge forum does not test an existing plan but requires participants to develop their response plans “on the fly” through a collaborative, team environment. The other key difference is that each team was judged and scored on the quality of their plans, thus fostering collaboration through spirited competition.

This report summarizes the challenge background, design, development, and delivery. Feedback on the challenge is also provided in this report, specifically addressing strengths, areas for improvement and possible future applications.

AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. with US Bureau of Reclamation and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board
September 17, 2014