Weather modification, also known as cloud seeding, is designed to increase winter precipitation. Cloud seeding disperses substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation.
Water policymakers see weather modification as an opportunity to augment flows in the Colorado River basin as part of their broader drought contingency planning.
A 2014 study by the State of Wyoming is the most ambitious and expensive ever done on cloud seeding. It concluded that — despite several caveats and uncertainties — seeding in two Wyoming mountain ranges increased snowfall by 5 percent to 15 percent and raised stream flows by 0.4 percent to 3.7 percent.
In southwestern Colorado, several local water entities fund the weather modification program, including the Durango Mountain Resort, Telluride Ski and Golf, Florida Water Conservancy District, Florida Consolidated Ditch Company, the San Juan Water Conservancy District, the Pine River Irrigation District, Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District, Dolores Water Conservancy District, and the Southwestern Water Conservation District. Matching funds are also provided by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Lower Colorado River Basin States and New Mexico.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board administers the state’s cloud seeding program, issuing permits and providing funding. For more information, please visit their website. For a touch of history, watch this video, by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation about cloud seeding.
Watch this short video from the Durango Herald on southwestern Colorado’s program: