Cloud Seeding Controversy - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/25/02

Cloud Seeding Controversy

The weather on the South Plains is always changing., and it's unpredictable. That's exactly why theres a group that's been trying to control it with what they call cloud seeding. A rain enhancement program that injects clouds with Silver Iodide, but some say this rain maker is just a money waster.

"It's inconclusive, we're spending a lot of taxpayer dollars, a lot of money on this project that I feel has been detrimental to my farming operation and to a lot of other farmers," says dry land farmer, Jerry Sowder.  Dozens of concerned  farmers and experts gathered Wednesday to hash out the issue. Sowder was one of them.

Sowder says not only is the program not working but it's hurting his crop. He thinks it's thinning out the clouds and that's also thinning out his wallet. "Me being a dry land farmer, it's costing me some timely rainfall on our crops,"he says.   

The issue of cloud seeding has become so controversial, that the program was temporarily suspended on August 9th. The very next day, Sowder's farm finally received rain, and it has rained five times since then.

Scotty Savage works with a New Mexico water agency that also experiments with cloud seeding. But, she says the program works, and thinks some rainfall is better than none. "We're so short of water in this part of the United States. I don't know how we can let emotions rule what we think," says Savage.

Regardless of what both sides believe, one Meteorologist says it's unreasonable to think anyone can fool mother nature. "If we can't really predict what a cloud can do now in advance, it's absurd to think we can go in there and make it do what we want to do," says Meteorologist Researcher, Dr. Charles Doswell.

50% of cloud seeding is funded by landowner taxes from water districts. The other half of the program is funded by the state through the texas department of agriculture.

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