The Drought Response Program
Because drought directly impacts its ability to deliver water and fulfill its Federal mission, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is assisting stakeholders in building resiliency to drought and climate variability in the west. As the nation’s largest wholesale water provider, Reclamation provides financial and technical assistance to water management entities through the WaterSMART Drought Response Program for the development of Drought Contingency Plans (DCPs) to mitigate potential water-related impacts resulting from drought. The $400,000 Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer DCP, one of 11 selected across the west in August 2015, has been enabled through matching funds from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and Reclamation.
A systematic and comprehensive planning process was employed to develop the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer DCP. With an emphasis on stakeholder involvement, an experienced Planning Team (the existing Choctaw/Chickasaw Regional Water Planning Team) facilitated comprehensive input from dozens of municipal, agricultural, mining, energy, environmental and recreational interests through both public meetings and individual discussions.
Goals for the DCP:
1) Prepare for and mitigate the impacts of drought episodes that preclude the optimum use and economic benefits of the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, and
2) Implement proactive strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the aquifer. Major components of the DCP include Sector Vulnerabilities (water use, economic consideration, infrastructure), Regional Climate Variability Assessment, Drought Monitoring System (recommended triggers/phases), Drought Mitigation/Response Strategies, and Implementation Schedule (near-, mid-, long-term actions).
Drought Triggers and Stages
Five hydrologic factors (lake level, aquifer level, spring flow, river flow, and PDSI) will be used by the Task Force to establish Response Action trigger points for DCP water use sectors. Specific trigger thresholds, which will be revisited annually by the Task Force as it considers any required updates of the DCP, were agreed upon through consensus.
The water level in Arbuckle Lake drops below 867 feet (five feet below conservation pool elevation) Arbuckle Lake Current Readings
Depth to water in the USGS Fittstown monitoring well drops below 120 feet Fittstown Monitoring Well Current Readings
Flow in Antelope Springs drops below 0.5 CFS Antelope Springs Current Readings
Flow in the Blue River near Connerville drops below 33 CFS Blue River Near Connerville Current Readings
The PDSI for Oklahoma Climate Division 8 drops below -4.0 (Extreme Drought) PDSI Current Readings
To avoid situations where drought stages are triggered, only to be lifted a few days later, the thresholds described above should be based on the average of the previous month of data. Decisions on whether to implement or lift drought stages should also be made on a monthly basis.
At the December 9, 2016 Stakeholder meeting, the DCP Task Force and Stakeholders agreed that the three following stages of drought will be utilized to trigger Response Actions:
Drought Stage 1 (Alert)—Any one of the five thresholds is reached
Drought Stage 2 (Warning)—All five of the thresholds are reached
Local Drought Stage 3 (Emergency)—Dictated by local conditions
For the recommended Response Actions for Water Use Sectors to appropriately respond to each Drought Stage, please view the chart on pages 55-56 of the final report.