Today Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) introduced H.R. 2431, legislation to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Cosponsoring the bill are Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). NIDIS was established in 2006 by legislation introduced by Hall. This bill extends authorization of this critical program through 2018.
"Drought is a continuing challenge that affects most regions of our country," Hall said. "Currently 53 percent of the U.S. is experiencing abnormally dry to exceptional drought conditions. The National Integrated Drought Information System has been a highly effective program that provides the best available information and tools to monitor and predict droughts, assess the potential impacts, and better prepare for and mitigate the effects of droughts."
The NIDIS program established the U.S. Drought Portal, www.drought.gov, a website dedicated to a range of services related to drought. Resources include current data from climate observations, early warnings about emerging and potential droughts, decision support services for managing droughts, and a forum for stakeholders. The online resource supports a collaborative framework between federal, state, and academic partners rather than creating a new government bureaucracy.
"NIDIS has been a valuable resource for decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels, farmers, businesses and individuals," Hall added. "The reauthorization bill continues this vital program, encourages further development of regional early warning systems and calls for a thorough analysis of the program. Continued development and identification of research, monitoring and forecasting needs can improve early warnings. Enhanced prediction tools can provide earlier information for water supply and demand planning, helping to mitigate the harmful impacts of drought."
NIDIS is administered in the Climate Program Office within the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).