US Drought MonitorWeekly drought figures released  by the US Drought Monitor show the situation continues to be a problem with approximately 50% of continental US now suffering from a moderate drought or worse.

Despite recent precipitation bringing welcome relief and downgrading of the drought status in some parts of the country, the long term picture shows challenges remain.

Changing weather patterns and increasing likelihood of extreme weather events are pushing sustainable supply chain management up the agenda for many companies. The US drought is just one of many examples of how changing weather patterns can create clear and present supply chain risks.

Evaluating & managing these risks will require a mix of reliable data, working with your suppliers to improve sustainability (in this case reducing water consumption in drought affected areas) and ultimately evaluating the long term viability of certain industries continuing in areas that no longer have the ecological services required to support them. In this example, it raises the question whether heavy water using industries will remain viable over the long term in areas severely hit by the drought.

Increasing insurance premiums, water tariffs, reduced output, increased costs of refrigeration etc. could all affect the operating costs and therefore economic sustainability of vulnerable industries.

Tom Bowers

President, Virescent Consultants Ltd


The US Drought Monitor is a joint project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the USDA and several other government and academic partners.

US Drought Monitor

Tom Bowers

Tom is an environmental and life cycle analyst and a supply-management advocate. He believes that Purchasers are in a great position to deliver sustainability goals and objectives for all types of organization. He has worked for over 10 years in Policy and Research in government, the 3rd sector and private sector. More importantly, he has a wealth of ideas to share with the supply chain profession.

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