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News Release

13 July 2007
GSA Release No. 07-30

Contact: Christa Stratton

Public Congressional Briefings Next Week on Managing Drought

Boulder, CO, USA — Congressional briefings on "Managing Drought: A Roadmap for Change in the United States" will be held Wednesday, 18 July, in the nation's capital. Presented by the Geological Society of America, in association with the Congressional Hazards Caucus and the Hazards Caucus Alliance, the briefings are open to the public.

Thirty percent of the United States is currently enduring moderate to extreme or exceptional drought conditions with economic, social, and environmental impacts potentially costing billions of dollars. Hardest hit this summer are states in the Southeast and West. The stage is set, however, for wider and more severe problems due to global climate change, land use changes, and increasing population growth in drought-prone areas of the country.

"Substantial concerns have been raised in recent years about our current crisis-based approach to drought management," said Don Wilhite, Director of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "The increasing magnitude of drought requires that we stop waiting until it happens and scrambling to react. We know drought comes in cycles and we must be prepared for it."

A national drought conference convened by the Geological Society of America in 2006 brought together a wide array of scientists and public policy experts from seven countries. A consensus developed in working sessions on the need to embrace a new paradigm of risk-based drought management and planning because the current crisis management approach is ineffective and expensive. The conference resulted in preparation of a document entitled "Managing Drought: A Roadmap for Change in the United States." Next week's Congressional briefings will focus on key recommendations from the conference and Roadmap.

The schedule of briefings Wednesday, 18 July 2007, is as follows:
   Senate Briefing - Room 385 Russell, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
   House Briefing - Room 2325 Rayburn, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Briefings will be moderated by Dr. Gene Whitney, Assistant Director of Environment, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Speakers and their topics are:

  • "Setting the Stage for Improved Drought Management in the United States"
    Dr. Jack Hess, Executive Director, Geological Society of America
  • "Managing Drought in the United States: A Roadmap for Science and Public Policy"
    Dr. Don Wilhite, Director, National Drought Mitigation Center
  • "Managing Drought at the District Level"
    Mr. David Witter, Director, Environmental Compliance and Water Policy, El Dorado Water District, California


For more information, contact Deborah Nelson, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Geological Society of America, +1-303-357-1014, .

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