chapter  7
Nevada’s Approach to Minimizing the Risk from Prolonged Drought
WithMark Walker, Kerri Jean Ormerod
Pages 16

Drought is a consistent feature of Nevada’s climate. However, the economic and social disruption caused by the most recent extended drought (2011–2016) prompted a statewide dialog in the form of the Nevada Drought Forum (NDF). The NDF, established in 2015 by gubernatorial order, served as a venue to solicit select stakeholder engagement, encouraged the public to meet and summarize the extent of drought impacts and adaptive responses to the drought, and suggested institutional changes that could increase community resiliency toward severe, extended and extreme drought. Based on stakeholder comments the NDF recommended a number of policy, administrative and infrastructure changes, including (1) improving data collection and analysis, (2) enhancing government authority to cope with drought, and (3) experimenting with free-market approaches to managing groundwater rights. This chapter reports on actions taken in response to the NDF’s recommendations as the most recent step in Nevada’s response to disruptions in climate and the quest for resilience to drought. Actions include changes to water law, expansion of the state’s meteorological and vegetative data collection network, administrative requirements to measure (rather than estimate) groundwater use in over-allocated basins, and exploration of a market-based approach to water rights administration. Collectively, these actions build social resilience by increasing resource managers’ abilities to cope with drought, including persistent water security problems associated with over-allocation of water resources, and therefore to reduce community vulnerability.