This past winter many areas of the country made headlines for extreme winter conditions and heavy snowfall; it can be easy to forget that other areas have been experiencing the exact opposite for a long time, and it’s only getting worse. The urgency of exactly how to mitigate the effects of ongoing severe drought has reached critical importance with city and state officials in the hardest hit regions. A recent Los Angeles Times Op-Ed article by Jay Famiglietti, Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and professor of Earth System Science at UC Irvine, revealed that Southern California may be at a critical juncture. Making matters worse, there appears to be no near-term help from nature in sight. According to Famiglietti, “As our ‘wet’ season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest [month] in California since record-keeping began in 1895.”

With the clock ticking, state and local governments are putting the pedal to the metal and looking towards large scale contracts to address long-term water shortage issues. In the short term, agency officials are releasing smartphone apps so users can report water use violations, broken sprinklers and irrigation leaks, according to a recent article in Government Technology magazine.

To help paint a picture of the government contracting market created by drought conditions and to help forecast the future of drought related contracting opportunities, we decided to look into Onvia’s large database of government contracting opportunities, awards and budgets.

Where to Find Drought Related Government Contract Opportunities

Using search terms related to drought in Onvia’s Project Center revealed which levels of government have been issuing the most bids & RFPs. Government contractors interested in pursuing drought related contracts should note that city and town governments lead all other sectors of state and local agencies, having issued 41% of all drought related contracts from 2012-2014.  

Looking into future spending with Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center provides indication that local agencies should continue to be the leading level of government for drought relief related contracts. Of all the budgets mentioning projects expected to start in the next five years, 61% came from city and town agencies.

For state agencies, California leads the way at 54% of all state contracts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the City of Los Angeles leads for cities and Los Angeles County leads for counties.

To help track U.S. drought conditions the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) created the National Integrated Drought Information System (NDIS). The online portal is a useful tool for tracking the effects of drought generally but can also be used to help forecast what state and local governments may be issuing contract opportunities in the near future.

Here’s are the top locations for drought relief related contracting opportunities since 2012:

Top 5 States for Drought Related Contracts

Top 5 States for Fiber Optic Opportunities

*For a more detailed map of drought across the United States, visit the National Integrated Drought Information System (NDIS)


Top 5 Counties for Drought Related Contracts

Top 5 Cities for Fiber Optic Opportunities


Top 5 Cities for Drought Related Contracts

Top 5 Cities for Fiber Optic Opportunities

State and Local Agencies are Tackling Drought for the Near and Long Term

State and local governments face a complex dilemma when it comes to addressing the water shortage crisis, one that requires solutions in the near term as well as the long term.

A recent article from American City & County describes one ambitious long-term solution called Pure Water San Diego, which is budgeted at $2.7 million. San Diego Public Utilities Department director Halla Razak is quoted in the article saying, “Pure Water San Diego is needed to secure a long-term, reliable water supply for the city.” Included in the program implementation is the construction and operation of multiple water purification facilities, research, legislation development and education outreach.

Here’s a recent project example taken from Onvia’s Project Center that provides more insight into the current progress of this ambitious plan:

ExampleIn the summer of 2014, the City of San Diego in California issued a request for proposals for an as-needed technical engineering services consultant to “provide a broad array of services such as professional management, engineering, financial, regulatory and permitting, real estate acquisition and stakeholder engagement” for the Pure Water San Diego program.

Onvia’s Term Contract Center provided a few more examples of government agencies looking to address the effects of drought:

ExampleThe State of South Dakota awarded a one-year term contract to Amec Foster Wheeler to facilitate the analysis and completion of a drought mitigation plan for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, Office of Emergency Management

ExampleIn late 2014, the El Dorado Irrigation District in Placerville, CA awarded a contract valued at $90,000 to Vito Trucking for drought emergency water hauling to the Outingdale Water System

Key Takeaways

Government contractors looking to find and win currently open drought related opportunities should identify target agencies in the map above and focus their marketing efforts. As climate change becomes an increasingly accepted reality, monitoring future spending with Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center will aid contractors who are looking to create a robust government business pipeline for the next few years.