Hydrologic and human aspects of the 1976-77 drought

Professional Paper 1130




The drought of 1976-77 was the most severe in at least 50 years in many parts of the United States. Record low amounts of rainfall, snowfall, and runoff, and increased withdrawals of ground water were prevalent. The use of carry-over storage in reservoirs during 1976 maintained streamflow at near normal levels, but some reservoirs went dry or dropped below the outlet works in 1977. Carry-over storage in the fall of 1977 was very low. Ground-water levels were at or near record low levels in many aquifers, hundreds of wells went dry, and thousands of wells were drilled. Yet no wide-spread deterioration of ground-water quality was reported. Water-quality problems arose in some streams and lakes, but most were localized and of short duration. Water rationing became a way of life in numerous areas , and water was hauled in many rural areas and to a few towns. Water use was affected by legal agreements or decisions, some of which were modified for the duration of the drought, and by the inability of water managers to efficiently manage surface and ground waters as one resource under existing law. There are still many drought related problems to solve and many challenges to be met before the next drought occurs. The advancement of techniques in many fields of endeavor in recent years plus ongoing, planned, and proposed research on drought and the risks involved are promising thrusts that should make it easier to cope with the next drought. (Kosco-USGS)

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USGS Numbered Series
Hydrologic and human aspects of the 1976-77 drought
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Professional Paper
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U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
84 p.