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Drought forum launched by Sandoval


Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval launched the Western Governors’ Drought Forum on Thursday, Sept. 11, with the announcement of the regional initiative’s first four meetings and the roll-out of an online resource library to collect case studies and best practices.

Sandoval created the drought forum, his main initiative as Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), to foster a regional dialogue in which states and industry can share best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management.

The governor made the announcement at Lahontan Reservoir in Nevada, where low lake levels caused by extended drought conditions have forced the closing of all boat launches.

“The impact of drought in the West is clear to everyone here today. But it extends far beyond what’s happened at Lahontan Reservoir,” Sandoval said. “California is experiencing ‘exceptional drought,’ the most severe measurement reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor. And ‘extreme drought’ conditions continue in much of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.”

Participants at forum meetings will identify ways to avoid and mitigate the impact of drought on communities, economies and the environment. Each meeting will feature experts from government, industry and other arenas. The participants will focus on a specific sector impacted by drought, including:

• Managing Drought in the Energy Sector: Sept. 18-19, Norman, Okla.;
• Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Manufacturing, Mining and Industrial Sectors: Oct. 7-8, Tempe, Ariz.;
• Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Agricultural Sector: Nov. 13-14, Sacramento, Calif.;
• Drought Impacts and Solutions for Water Supply: Dec. 8-9, Las Vegas.

“We are intent on finding the best ideas the West has to offer to combat drought,” Sandoval said.

The governor also announced the launch of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum online resource library, a collection of best practices, case studies and news about drought. It will offer links to a wealth of resources, such as state drought plans and current conditions in the West as reported by the U.S. Drought Portal. New content will continue to be added to the website after Gov. Sandoval concludes his year as WGA Chairman, so it will serve as a resource in the years to come.

Western Governors’ Association Executive Director Jim Ogsbury joined Gov. Sandoval at the announcement to discuss the role of the bipartisan association, which is managing the Drought Forum. WGA represents the Governors of 19 Western states and 3 U.S.-flag islands as an instrument of the Governors for bipartisan policy development, information exchange and collective action on issues of critical importance to the Western United States.

The Western Governor’s Drought forum is being conducted in partnership with NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System. The initial meeting in Norman, Okla., is being sponsored by the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment and National Hydropower Association.

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