U.S. Water News Online
OGDEN, Utah -- Utah water managers and the state are
planning to spend more than $250,000 on cloud seeding this winter.
The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District is paying $18,000 for a
seeding project it shares with the Provo River Water Users
Todd Adams, Utah Division of Water resources, said cloud seeding
improves the amount of precipitation by 10 to 20 percent. The problem
is, if there is only 30 percent of normal rainfall to start with,
that isn't much to work on. Cloud seeding might bring that up to 35
percent, ``but that's still quite a bit less than normal.''
Which is why cloud seeding is not seen as a quick fix to a dry
period. Rather, it is seen as a way to make dry periods less severe.
``You have to do it on a long-term basis, where you augment the
soil moisture and snowpack,'' Adams said.
The state figures it gets an acre foot of water for every dollar
spent on cloud seeding. An acre foot is about what a typical family
uses in a year.
Tage Flint, Weber Basin's executive director, said the district
has been paying for cloud seeding for about 15 years. Its goal is to
build up snowpacks to give good spring runoffs that fill reservoirs.
``We're generally looking for higher elevation snow and the storms
that are establishing a base of snowpack in the upper elevations for
us to get on the late spring runoff,'' he said.
Don Griffith, president and owner of North American Weather
Consultants, does the cloud seeding for almost all of Utah. Most of
it is done by generators on the ground that spraying microscopic
particles of silver iodide into the air.
Griffith said the joke in the industry is that ``interest in cloud
seeding is soluble in rain water.''
During Utah's heavy rain years, his company has struggled, while
it's done pretty well the last four.
It shouldn't be that way, he said.
``Typically, we are very up front with people that a dry period is
probably the worst time to do cloud seeding.''
That's because in a dry period there are fewer clouds to seed.
The company has between 120 and 130 ground generators from St.
George to Logan. People living in the area of the generators are
hired to turn them on and off and maintain them. His company monitors
the weather and the cloud conditions and tells them when to turn them
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