BOISE – Idaho water managers say they will step up funding for a cloud-seeding program that’s already been credited with increasing the state’s mountain snowpack.
The Idaho Power Co. program releases silver iodine into the atmosphere, which helps ice form in the clouds and increases precipitation, the Capital Press reported.
The cloud seeding began in 2003. Idaho Power estimates that the extra snowpack creates an average of 800,000 acre-feet of water, roughly the volume of the American Falls Reservoir. It generates enough hydro-power to supply 17,000 homes.
Irrigation organizations, the Idaho Water Resource Board and Idaho Power will each shoulder about a third of the project’s cost, according to Idaho Power engineering leader Jon Bowling.
“We wouldn’t want our customers to bear the full cost of a program other stakeholders benefit from,” said Bowling. “I think we’ve had a pretty good reception to the collaborative funding mechanism.”
The Water Resource Board contributed $500,000 to help the program add infrastructure two years ago, followed by another $200,000 last year toward an airplane for cloud seeding in the Upper Snake River Basin, said Brian Patton, the Planning Bureau manager with the Idaho Department of Water Resources.
Water District 1, which includes the Upper Snake system, gave $200,000 to the program. Watermaster Lyle Swank says his district’s contribution is 20 percent of its total budget, but members voted for the contribution.
“When we can extract a little extra moisture from the atmosphere, that can be really helpful,” Swank said.
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