Drought affects all parts of the environment and its communities. The many different drought impacts are often grouped as "economic," "environmental," and "social" impacts.
Economic impacts are those impacts of drought that cost people (or businesses) money. Here are just a few different examples of economic impacts:
- Farmers may lose money if a drought destroys their crops.
- If a farmer's water supply is too low, the farmer may have to spend more money on irrigation or to drill new wells.
- Ranchers may have to spend more money on feed and water for their animals.
- Water companies may have to spend money on new or additional water supplies.
- People might have to pay more for food.
Drought also affects the environment in many different ways. Plants and animals depend on water, just like people. When a drought occurs, their food supply can shrink and their habitat can be damaged. Sometimes the damage is only temporary and their habitat and food supply return to normal when the drought is over. But sometimes drought's impact on the environment can last a long time, maybe forever.
Examples of environmental impacts include:
- Losses or destruction of fish and wildlife habitat
- Lack of food and drinking water for wild animals
- Increase in disease in wild animals, because of reduced food and water supplies
- Lower water levels in reservoirs, lakes, and ponds
- Loss of wetlands
- Wind and water erosion of soils
- Poor soil quality
Social impacts of drought are ways that drought affects people's health and safety. These include public safety, health, conflicts between people when there isn't enough water to go around, and changes in lifestyle.
Examples of social impacts include:
- Health problems related to low water flows and poor water quality
- Health problems related to dust
- Loss of human life