Many states across the United States are currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in American history. Some are even experiencing a "megadrought" , meaning that they have been experiencing drought conditions for many years. Climate change also exacerbates drought conditions by increasing the average global temperature and causing irregular weather patterns. Westerns states such as California , Arizona , Montana , Nevada , New Mexico , and Idaho are experiencing some of the most extreme effects. Drought is particularly devastating because it is slow coming but its effects are widespread. Increased drought conditions can result in: Loss of water pressure and supply Poor water quality Limited access to alternative water sources Increased customer demand Increased costs and reduced revenues For example, in Nevada, the drought has had disastrous impacts on Lake Mead , the largest water reservoir in the United States that currently provides water for over 20 million people across California, Nevada, Arizona, and some of Mexico. The reservoir is now at the lowest it has been since it was filled in 1937 and the situation is so extreme that the federal government is expected to declare an official Lake Mead shortage by the end of the summer. Drought can also negatively impact drinking water providers that rely on lakes because they can increase the number of algal blooms in freshwater. Algal blooms not only contain chemicals that are toxic to humans but large amounts of algae can also clog water filters and damage the water treatment process. A total of 31 states are currently experiencing moderate to severe drought across the country. Research also shows that the drought has become progressively worse over the past few decades . The U.S. Drought Monitor website has a feature that allows you to monitor the level of drought happening in your area. Like most natural disasters, rural and low-income communities are often hit the hardest by drought conditions because of their lack of access to resources and infrastructure. Rural farmers are also greatly impacted by drought because of the lack of water available for irrigation, making it very difficult to support themselves. Droughts are a public health issue because they affect access to clean and safe drinking water. Practicing emergency response and preparedness is the best way to minimize severe impacts from drought. To avoid serious impacts from droughts , water utilities should: Conduct observation and monitoring Practice planning and preparedness Predict and forecast Maintain good communication and outreach with customers Use interdisciplinary research and applications We've gathered some of the best resources from our library to help you dig in further to this topic. Resources for Drought Assessment and Resilience Incident Action Checklist – Drought This checklist from the U.S. EPA provides various ways for water and wastewater utilities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a drought. 10 Ways to Prepare for a Drought Related Water Shortage This resource from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership lists ten ways to prepare your small water system for water shortages. Small Water Systems and Rural Communities Drought and Water Shortage Contingency Planning and Risk Assessment This report can be used to help strengthen your water shortage vulnerability assessments and risk scoring. Drought Contingency Plan for a Retail Public Water Supplier This is a sample form that can be used as a model of a drought contingency plan for a retail public water supplier. Drought Management Plan A Template for Small Water Systems This document outlines mitigation measures that water managers can take to greatly minimize the effects of drought. 100 Water Saving Tips from “Water. Use it wisely.” Communicate some of these water-saving tips to your customers to help them conserve water during a drought.