Dynamics of Drought Vulnerability Between Urban and Rural Communities


Start Date

Primary Investigators

Geographic Region

Water utilities
Agricultural producers
Municipal leaders

As municipalities implement adaptation or mitigation plans based on past drought experience that improve their resilience, emergent and unexpected vulnerabilities can arise in response to these changes. They can happen immediately in response to water strategies or may be displaced in time or space (e.g. in rural communities months later). The goals of this project are threefold: 1) To understand the types of vulnerabilities to drought that water utilities, industries, agricultural producers, and municipal leaders are concerned about and plan for; 2) To trace the dynamic nature of vulnerabilities to drought that emerge between urban and adjacent rural communities as the implement drought plans; 3) To identify the triggers for emergent vulnerabilities that may be displaced across time and space in drought contexts. To meet these goals, the PI is interviewing representatives from each stakeholder group in sites along the Arkansas River Basin. Initial results suggest that stakeholders are well versed in the common vulnerabilities their sector faces, and even new resilient strategies that have emerged based on experiences with recent droughts (e.g. 2002 and 2012). However, many expressed surprise at some of the unanticipated outcomes in adjacent communities. This project will be extended to two other sites, in Utah and Wyoming, to better understand the range of stakeholder needs for better information about drought and climate information, new strategies for thinking about the interrelatedness between urban and rural communities, and tools that may help them better understand their own sector’s or community’s unique vulnerabilities and resilience strategies based on past experiences with drought.

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