Wichita Falls City Councilors Approve Cloud Seeding Contract

- Wichita Falls city leaders decide desperate times call for desperate measures. Tuesday they gave the okay to proceed with a cloud seeding project in an effort to bring rain.

Wichita Falls city officials think the conditions will soon be right to try and bring extra rain to the watershed with cloud seeding.

“We do expect closer to normal weather patterns for 2014 at least that's what the NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, site is saying. So we think there will be more opportunities this year to cloud seed then it would have been in the previous three years,” says Public Works Director Russell Schreiber.

So they are going to pay the 50 thousand dollar a month price tag for up to 6 months, hoping that when the right clouds come along, an on call meteorologist can spot them and send a plane up with silver iodide flares.

If the conditions and timing are perfect, the silver iodide will act as ice crystals do in natural rain storms, gathering moisture and forming water droplets which then fall to the ground.

If that doesn't happen enough, the city has an out in the 6 month contract.

“We did put a provision in the contract that if we want to suspend the contract, that if we want to suspend services at any point in the contract,” says Schreiber.

The city won't have to foot the bill alone. So far American Electric Power, which operates the power plant at Oklaunion, and the Wichita County Water Improvement District number 2 have agreed to help with the cost, paying 30 thousand dollars each. Schrieber says Wichita County and the W T Waggoner State are also planning to share some of the costs,  but it's unclear at this time how much they will pay.

Schreiber was hoping other counties in the watershed would contribute, but it doesn't look like Wichita Falls will get the support it was hoping for right now.

“It's not budgeted item in their budgets and I guess some of these counties don't have any extra reserve or any funds available,” says Schreiber.

But Schreiber says he owes it to the water users to push forward with cloud seeding, making sure city officials have tried everything they can to provide water to residents and businesses.

The cloud seeding contract starts on March 1st, and will be suspended through July and August when rain is less likely. They will pickup again in September and October.

We have been following this story since discussion started last month and have added the link to our previous story.

To learn more about the process the of cloud seeding, click here.

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