By Kim Passoth
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Governor Joe Lombardo signing a new law to help fight the drought and climate change in Nevada. More than a million dollars will be used over the next two years for cloud seeding. Conservation group Save Red Rock is celebrating the news as a big win.
“When we really launched this, it came out of a desperation, I mean we looked at the Joshua Trees and they were just dying, the animals were going to Las Vegas looking for water,” recalled Pauline van Betten with Save Red Rock. Save Red Rock decided something had to be done as two decades of drought left the canyon parched.
“We wanted to prove with private funding that we could target precipitation directly over Red Rock Canyon,” van Betten shared. In just one-month last fall, the group raised $100,000 to place a cloud seeding generator on a mountain top above Red Rock.
“When the conditions are right, meaning that there is a water-laden cloud over the generator, they propel silver iodide, a small amount of tiny, tiny crystals into the cloud,” van Betten shared. Those dust particles weigh down the moisture in the cloud and bring it to the ground. It’s a process that’s been used around the world for decades.
According to van Betten, one generator can add a significant amount of water, 3,000-acre feet or more in just one winter season.
“The average Las Vegas household uses about a third of an acre foot, so that’s about 9,000-10,000 homes worth of water,” stated van Betten.
While this winter was a wet one, van Betten stressed we don’t know what the future will look like and cloud seeding is a way to increase rainfall in key areas throughout the state including the now much more lush Red Rock Canyon.
“Now the Joshua trees are blooming. The riverbeds are still full of water going into July. It gives people hope that we do have a path forward to mitigate the results of climate change,” van Betten contended.
There are two cloud seeding generators in the Spring Mountains, one targeting Red Rock Canyon and the other on Mount Charleston/Lee Canyon.
The state appropriation of $1.2 million will be allocated to Desert Research Institute for cloud seeding at multiple locations.