Mother Nature has been neglecting Utah's water needs the past few years.
So water czars will be trying to capture more of her attention this winter with extensive cloud-seeding programs."With conditions as serious as they are, we just about have to do everything we can," said Ivan Flint, manager of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, the state's largest water district, whose reservoirs are at less than one-third capacity.
"Our reservoirs are lower than they were in 1987, when we had a severe drought," Flint said. The reservoirs have enough water to meet only culinary water demand next year. Irrigation will depend totally on this winter's snowpack, he said.
The Weber district is negotiating with the Provo Water Users Association and the Central Utah Water Users Association to fund cloud-seeding on the upper Weber and Provo rivers. The five-month program is expected to cost about $98,000.
The Weber district also is negotiating with the Ogden River Water Users Association to seed clouds in the upper Ogden river area, at a cost around $21,000.
In both projects, the state would pay one-third the cost, Flint said, with the water districts sharing the balance.
The Weber district did not seed clouds last year because of controversy surrounding Wyoming water users' contentions that Utah cloud seeding is depriving them of rainfall.
The Weber district did not seed clouds last year because of controversy around Wyoming water users' contentions that Utah seeding deprives them of rainfall.
But Flint said there are few data to support those contentions. In fact, he said, there is some evidence that cloud seeding in Utah actually helps Wyoming.
In cloud seeding, silver iodide is heated with propane generators, which send clouds of fine particulates into the sky. The particles cause the clouds to condense and drop their moisture.
William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, said cloud seeding can increase precipitation 10 to 13 percent.