U.S. Water News Online
COLBY, Kan. -- Thomas County voters have made it clear that
they don't want cloud-seeding planes flying over their homes and
Residents rejected the Kansas Weather Modification Program
1,353-759 in a nonbinding referendum in early November. The results
will be forwarded to the Kansas Water Office and reviewed by the
governor before a decision is made on whether to include the county
in future cloud seeding efforts.
If the vote stands, Thomas County would be the fourth northwest
Kansas county to defect from the program. Cheyenne, Rawlins, and
Decatur counties decided earlier to withdraw from the program.
Those defections cost the program a $42,000 cut for the 2001
budget, and the agency said in its web page that nonsupport from
Thomas County voters would likely reduce state water plan funds by a
proportionate amount. If that occurs, the board would have to make up
the funds or decide not to conduct next year's program.
The Kansas Weather Modification Program has been fighting an
uphill battle to win support since it expanded its flights into
northwest Kansas in 1997.
Opponents of the program expressed concern that planes may be
redistributing rainfall and hail and that the silver iodide used to
seed the clouds is a highly toxic substance that could cause
``I farm with my family,'' said Sherry Barrett, one of the leading
opponents of the program. ``I believe it has affected the weather in
The Kansas Weather Modification Program target area covers 16,000
square m iles, or 10.2 million acres of western Kansas.
Officials with the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management
District in Colby -- the agency which manages the program in
northwest Kansas -- declined to comment on the Thomas County election
at the request of its board.
``This vote is a nonbinding ballot -- it really doesn't decide a
lot,'' said Wayne Bossert, manager for the groundwater management
The weather modification program covers Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan,
Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, Scott, Lane, Hamilton, Kearny, Finney,
Stanton, Grant, Haskell, Gray, Ford, and portions of Graham, Logan
and Gove counties. It also includes portions of Cheyenne County,
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