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Midwest and Missouri River Basin DEWS Webinar: Iowa Drought Plan – Overview, Process, and Lessons Learned

Event Date
March 14, 2023
Event Time
10:00 am - 11:00 am

This Midwest and Missouri River Basin Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) Webinar featured a series of presenters that highlighted the newly released Iowa Drought Plan.

The Iowa Drought Plan was developed through a collaborative planning process between state, local, and federal partners. This webinar will provide a summary of the major components of the Iowa Drought Plan, highlight the process the State of Iowa took to develop the plan, and presenters will reflect on lessons learned or best practices recognized during the development of the plan.


Welcome to the Midwest and Missouri River Basin DEWS Webinar

Speaker: Molly Woloszyn, NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS); Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

  • NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was created by Congress in 2006 with a mandate to help the nation prepare for, mitigate, and respond to the effects of drought. NIDIS does this through a series of activities, including the development of regional drought early warning systems and through support to improve drought predictions and forecasting, effective drought planning and preparedness, and assessing the impacts of drought. 
  • Access the State of Iowa Drought Plan here.



Iowa Drought Plan

Speakers: Tim Hall, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Justin Glisan, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS); Sarah Eggert, Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD)

  • This is the first official drought plan for the State of Iowa. Previously, drought was incorporated into their state water plan. It took 13 months to develop the drought plan, with no specific monetary resources.
  • There were multiple state agencies invested in the development of this plan, which was crucial. The State of Iowa also looked at a lot of other state drought plans to get ideas of what to include, as well as resources from the National Drought Mitigation Center and NIDIS. A challenge during the development of the plan was gathering stakeholder input.
  • The Science and Data Team helped determine the drought indicators that are used in the plan. The main indicators include precipitation deficits (3- to 6-month scales for precipitation and Standardized Precipitation Index), streamflow (Standardized Streamflow Index), and the U.S. Drought Monitor. 
  • They plan to build soil moisture into the list of indicators—and hope to garner more support from the state for soil moisture monitoring by launching this drought plan.
  • The team views the Iowa Drought Plan as a living document. They will spend the next 1 to 2 years assessing the plan and will likely release a revised version at that time. After that, it’ll be updated every 5 years.



Reflections on Process and Lessons Learned

Speaker: Cody Knutson, National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)

  • 46 states currently have a drought mitigation and/or response plan across the U.S.
  • There was a nice leveraging of resources to develop this plan. This included a lot of involvement from state agencies, as well as the NDMC and USDA Midwest Climate Hub.
  • This plan includes the three pillars for planning: monitoring and early warning, vulnerability and impact assessment, and mitigation and response actions.
  • Overall, it was a relatively quick process (about 13 months) and also relatively inexpensive, using mainly staff time. Also, they have already exercised the plan through a table-top exercise and found some improvements that they would already like to make.



Questions and Answers

  • Exercising the plan: They partnered with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the State Emergency Operations Center to walk through the plan to learn about changes that might need to be made. This was very helpful, and the team will likely make some revisions based off of this exercise.
  • The State of Iowa matched this process with the overall process of updating the state’s hazard mitigation plan, which was helpful to leverage engagement opportunities.