Lawmaker hopes to boost rainfall in New Mexico via weather modification

Politics - Government

A state lawmaker is trying to make it rain. No, really—a House Democrat is hoping the legislature will fund a weather modification program that will help squeeze precipitation from clouds over New Mexico. 

Weather modification means to take a cloud that would either form rain or snow and ‘seed’ it, giving those clouds an extra boost. 

“If we take advantage of when we do have rainfall, limited as it is, and bump it up a little bit, that would make a huge difference in our air and climate and maybe it will move us from constantly being in drought conditions to being in stable conditions,” Rep. Candie Sweetser, D-Deming, said. 

Rep. Sweetser says cloud seeding has been done before in the eastern parts of the state and produced about a 10 percent increase in precipitation.

Experts speaking on behalf of the bill say the clouds would be seeded with iodized salt, which wouldn’t be harmful to people or plants during rainfall. The experts say the clouds only stay seeded for up to 30 minutes. 

People who work in the agriculture industry showed up to the committee in strong support. 

“If there’s anything we need in New Mexico, it’s water and we need it in all parts of the state,” farmer Rick Ledbetter said. 

Rep. Sweetser says the weather modifications would primarily focus on the southeastern side of the state for farmers and up north to generate more snowfall. They are asking for $1.2 million to fund this program. 

The seeds are delivered into the clouds via airplane. 

The bill was unanimously approved at the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. It now heads to Appropriations and Finance. 

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