A new on-line tool aims to measure the human and economic impact of drought. The “Drought Impact Reporter,” as it’s called, is the first national effort to collect data on the way individuals are affected by drought. Climatologist Mark Svoboda at the National Drought Mitigation Center clicks on the program to input a state and county he’s reporting from. From that point he describes scrolling down the computer form and typing into the fields “My well has gone dry,” at a location just outside city limits, and concluding he’ll have to drill a new well, “that’ll cost me 2-thousand five-hundred dollars.” Svoboda says once the impact report is submitted, workers at National Drought Mitigation Center will verify the information before adding it to the database. He says it’s a monumental task, but well worth the effort. Svoboda says it allows people to actually have a voice and to provide a feedback mechanism, especially if they’re suffering out there. He says the Center will get the message and depict the problem correctly, making sense on the drought monitor and not missing anything. The project has been in the works for six months, but only now is being unveiled to the public. Svoboda says a lot of reports already have come in. And, some 12-thousand paper records collected by his office since 1997 will eventually be added in.
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