|The severe drought conditions impacting California and the Western United States over the last several years have led to greater awareness of the consequences of water scarcity and the need for effective drought policy. The Southeastern U.S. is not immune to this threat, as evidenced by the devastating droughts of 2007 and 2016. Without adequate management and effective planning, drought impacts and water scarcity issues are likely to become more severe. Few studies have critically analyzed local drought management plans and conceptualized the overall quality of the mitigation strategies. Characteristics of local management plans in the West and Southeast U.S. were evaluated on three levels for key elements of sustainable policy (i.e., social, environment, and economic), the stages of drought management (i.e., pre-drought, during drought, and post-drought), and the level of detail and overall quality. This study presents a multi-state policy analysis for 22 key cities in the Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi), and the Western U.S. (California and Arizona). The results confirm the assumption that drought management plans are more comprehensive in the west and they provide a roadmap for how cities in the southeast can increase the level of preparedness. Recommendations for the development of successful local plans, particularly from the environmental pillar, pre-drought, and during-drought framework, are provided based on the higher scores of the western plans. These methods are a proactive approach to sustainably addressing water scarcity issues.