In the right conditions, cloud seeding can provide water source for Arizona

Sep 27, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 5:17 am

PHOENIX – KTAR News 92.3 FM’s last Water Watch Minute was about cloud seeding: how the technology works and how it has the potential to shore up water supplies, as long as specific conditions are met.

One of the biggest caveats of cloud seeding is the necessity of existing clouds. In the Grand Canyon State, those can sometimes seem to be in short supply.

However, that doesn’t mean cloud seeding can’t work in Arizona.

Orestes Morfin with Central Arizona Project, which delivers water to more than 80% of Arizonans, said Arizona is still a candidate for the technology.

“We certainly have many of the right environments and conditions for cloud seeding,” he said. “We have some very high mountains; we do experience winter storms in the state. And as far as warm weather cloud seeding, we have the monsoon.”

Morfin also outlined some of the ways cloud seeding is being proposed in Arizona.

“Salt River project is currently exploring possibilities in the White Mountains, working with community partners on a trial program,” he explained. “There’s also a group called Pinal County Water Augmentation Authority that’s looking at the feasibility of warm weather cloud seeding.”

CAP, on the other hand, is exploring cloud seeding opportunities outside of Arizona that can still benefit the state.

“We are focused on augmenting the supply that comes from the Colorado River,” Morfin said. “We’re actively funding efforts in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, places like that.”

The goal is to augment snowpack, which can be effective as long as enough storms occur to make a difference.

The nature of cloud seeding – and the specific conditions it demands – means CAP’s strategy is flexible and based on opportunity rather than reliability.

“Cloud seeding isn’t like pumping groundwater, you don’t know necessarily that the resource is there or that it’s necessarily coming, he explained. “You just have to be prepared to take advantage of it when the conditions are right.”

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In the right conditions, cloud seeding can provide water source for Arizona