Institute for Water Resources

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Shared Vision Planning

Step 7 - Exercise, Update, and Use the Plan

Some of the good work done in the preceding steps can be undone by the passage of time. In the case of a Drought Preparedness Study (DPS), it may be several years before another drought occurs. During that time, professional staff may change jobs, water users may change in nature and quantity, and new laws may be passed that affect the way the water system can be operated. The result is that the trust and familiarity developed during the DPS will diminish, and the region’s vulnerability to drought will gradually return.                                                                                          

The solution is to exercise the plan. It is a simple concept, used quite commonly in other areas of hazards management from fire drills to military maneuvers. 

For the DPS method, with the use of shared vision simulation models of the system, Virtual Drought Exercises could be used in the years after a tactical drought plan had been designed to exercise a regional drought preparedness strategy. This would let agencies address new water uses and train new staff and stakeholders.

The first virtual drought was held in Tacoma, Washington, on August 4, 1993, as part of the Cedar and Green River Basins DPS. It was well received by the participants and can be used as a model for other regions interested in exercising water plans.