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Drought Management Plan

The New York City Drought Management Plan has three phases - Drought Watch, Drought Warning and Drought Emergency - that are invoked sequentially as conditions dictate. The Drought Emergency phase is further subdivided into four stages with increasingly severe mandated use restrictions. Guidelines have been established to identify when a Drought Watch, Warning or Emergency should be declared and when the appropriate responses should be implemented. These guidelines are based on factors such as prevalent hydrological and meteorological conditions, as well as certain operational considerations. In some cases, other circumstances may influence the timing of drought declarations.

Drought Watch

A Drought Watch is declared when there is less than a 50% probability that either of the two largest reservoir systems, the Delaware (Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton, and Rondout Reservoirs) or the Catskill (Ashokan, and Schoharie Reservoirs), will fill by June 1 - the start of the water-year.

Drought Warning

Drought Warning is declared when there is less than a 33% probability that either the Catskill or Delaware Systems will fill by June 1.

Drought Emergency

A Drought Emergency is declared when there is a reasonable probability that, without the implementation of stringent measures to reduce consumption, a protracted dry period would cause the City's reservoirs to be drained. This probability is estimated during dry periods in consultation with the New York State Drought Management Task Force and the New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission. The estimation is based on analyses of the historical record, the pattern of the dry period months, water quality, subsystem storage balances, delivery system status, system construction, maintenance operations, snow cover, precipitation patterns, use forecasts, and other factors. Because no two droughts have identical characteristics, no single probability profile can be identified in advance that would generally apply to the declaration of a drought emergency.

For a complete copy (22 pages) of the the Drought Management Plan and Rules, download this PDF file:

Drought Plan (PDF)

Reservoir Levels

Current: 82.9%

Normal: 74.5%