North Dakota Water Science Center
When droughts occur, there is not enough water to supply all needs. If water is diverted from streams to irrigate crops, streamflow will decrease. Reservoirs that may already be at low levels will be drawn even lower to supply water for power generation, to supply water to downstream cities and towns, or to maintain river levels high enough for navigation. Decreasing water levels in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs may cause problems for fish and wildlife that depend on wetlands or water bodies to survive.
Balancing the needs of all the users of a water supply during a drought can be very difficult. Local, State, and Federal agencies must make decisions on how water will be used to satisfy the most critical needs and to reduce economic and environmental problems. In times of severe drought, water users must cooperate and share the limited amount of water available to protect the critical needs of people, fish and wildlife, agriculture, and industry.
Conserving water is very important during periods of drought. Water saved by one user may be enough to protect the critical needs of others. Irrigation practices can be changed to use less water or crops that use less water can be planted. Cities and towns can ration water, factories can change manufacturing methods, and individuals can practice water-saving measures to reduce consumption. If everyone reduces water use during a drought, more water will be available to share
Source: Moreland, Joe A., 1993, Drought: U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 93-642, 2 p.