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Wichita County Agrees to Help Pay Cloud Seeding Cost; Sheppard Gives Air Clearance

Starting Saturday the city could start adding silver iodide to our clouds to try to make it rain.
Starting Saturday the city could start adding silver iodide to our clouds to try to make it rain if there are any clouds and the weather conditions are right.

Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom says commissioners agreed they needed to do everything they could to try to ease the drought.

Wichita County is now the fourth group that will help pay the $50,000 a month cloud seeding cost.

And county officials say even though it's a gamble, as this severe drought continues, it's worth a shot.

“The science, the equipment, things have changed, it's still speculative. We can't make a promise that this will rain but in the potential that there are clouds to produce rainfall this will increases the amount of rain fall,” says Judge Gossom.

Although the city of Wichita Falls has not received as much support as they had hoped, they are thankful to have the extra 5 thousand dollars a month.

And more help could still be coming.

“There's a couple of water districts in the western counties of the watershed that are debating whether to come in or not to participate,” says Wichita Falls Public Works Director Russell Schreiber.

Schreiber says cities who already buy water from Wichita Falls have not been asked to help out because they and other wholesale water customers will eventually have the costs passed on through water rates.

“They will be paying for it when we complete the new rate study next year because this will an expense that will get figured in, calculated into their new rate,” says Schreiber.

Although not a financial partner, Sheppard Air Force Base will also play a big role in the project. Monday, public works officials met with officials at the base to get special air clearance.

“They have specific zones and specific areas that normally civilian planes are not allowed to fly in, so it was very important especially cause safety comes first. On the safety aspect to coordinate those air operations and get the right people together that are going to have to be able to communicate back and fourth,” says Deputy Director of Public Works, Teresa Rose.

And Rose says they were able to reach an agreement that will allow the cloud seeding pilot and Sheppard pilots to work around each other.

“When there is a prime cloud that would be seeding and if it happens to be at the elevation and with in the military operating area, as that pilot goes up into the air he will change over to a frequency in which he will contact Fort Worth Center and then he will cleared,” says Rose.

To learn more about the process, click here.
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