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Cloud-seeding Project Proposed

by Staff
Idaho Mountain Express, April 24, 2015

Big Wood Canal Co. offers to pay $100,000 per year in costs

Water shortages are leading to court cases in southern Idaho and the formation of water districts in the Wood River Valley.

Cities in the Wood River Valley are hiring lawyers to respond to possible curtailments of municipal well-pumping rights.

Idaho Power Co. and leaders of irrigation canal companies in the region think seeding clouds to increase snowpack levels in the surrounding mountains could provide more water for everyone.

"We have to work together if we are all going to survive," said Big Wood Canal Co. board chair Carl Pendleton on Tuesday at the Senior Connection in Hailey.

Pendleton joined Idaho Power Co. scientist Shaun Parkinson at a meeting of the South Central Idaho Precipitation Enhancement Strategy group to present a plan for dispersing silver iodide crystals into winter storm clouds as they approach the Wood River Valley. The crystals would induce condensation of snowfall at higher temperatures than would occur in nature, Parkinson said.

Based on successful cloud-seeding projects in the Payette region of northwest Idaho, a similar project could yield up to 10 percent more snow, an additional 100,000 acre-feet of water, in the Wood River Valley, Parkinson said.

"This is not a cure for drought, but part of a long-term water management plan," Parkinson said.

Pendleton said 100,000 acre-feet of water would carry the potential to extend the irrigation season for the Big Wood Canal Co. below Magic Reservoir from the current 50 days to 100 days.

The Idaho Power project would employ meteorologists to utilize cloud-seeding generators placed at high elevations 20 miles west of the Wood River Valley, as well as airplane dispersal units, weather balloons and other equipment.

Up to 26 cloud-seeding towers would be placed on private and state land, Pendleton said.

Pendleton said the Big Wood Canal Co. has offered to invest $100,000 per year on the project for five years. He said smaller canal companies and other groups are expected to add an additional $80,000 to the fund, and that state funding could also be applied to the project.

Pendleton said matching funds of $180,000 from Blaine County governments, organizations and private individuals would make the project viable.

"We are reaching out to city council members and county commissioners. We are seeking financial support," Pendleton said.

Parkinson answered questions from the audience of 15 people. He cited numerous scientific studies in saying that silver iodide does not harm the environment because it is insoluble, "similar to a quartz crystal," and poses no hazards to wildlife.

Parkinson also answered concerns about whether cloud seeding was related to "chemical trails" created by government aircraft in the region. He said cloud seeding was not the cause of "vapor trails" left by jets on clear days, describing the worries over so-called chemical trails a "conspiracy theory."

"In any case, they are unrelated to cloud seeding," he said.

Related Pages:
Is Cloud Seeding Worth It? by John O'Connell, Times-News 1/17/5

Cloud-seeding Project Proposed
Idaho Mountain Express, April 24, 2015

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