Weather Modification Grants
The Weather Modification Program
exists to issue and monitor cloud seeding and other weather modification
activities in Colorado. The program is statutorily authorized in
Article 20, sections § 36-20-101 through 127. House Bill 06-1313 expands the Weather Modification
Program to provide state grants to water providers to assist in funding
ground-based wintertime operational cloud seeding programs. The bill
also changed state authorities to accept contributions from other entities
that benefit from cloud seeding. Colorado water users developed many
new cloud seeding programs in response to the drought that started in the
early 2000s. It is anticipated that interest in funding long-term
wintertime cloud seeding programs will continue to grow as competition for
water supplies increase. The CWCB had grants of $20,000 in FY 04,
$60,000 in FY 05, and has grants of $75,000 in FY 06 (starting July 1,
2006). Currently there are active cloud seeding permits in the
following watersheds: San Juan/Animas watershed (Southwestern Water
Conservation District), Gunnison watershed (Gunnison County & many
interests), Lower Colorado River Basin - Grand Mesa (Water Enhancement
Authority), Upper Colorado River Basin (Denver Water), Upper Colorado
River Basin (Colorado Springs Utilities), and the Upper San Miguel Basin
(Telluride Ski & Golf and Southwestern Water Conservation
Eligible for Grants?
The weather modification grants program
provides grants to existing permitted cloud seeding programs. The
state funding is designed to model successes in Utah where state funding
made available every year has helped local water user sponsored cloud
seeding programs to span decades. The state funding is only
available to assist water user groups and city and county
governments. Ski areas and other interests are not currently
eligible for cloud seeding grants even if they participate in an existing
permitted cloud seeding program. Currently all permitted projects in
Colorado have local water users sponsoring all or part of the cloud
seeding except for the Vail/Beaver Creek Ski area cloud seeding
What is a Permitted
A cloud seeding
contractor works with a local water user group to develop a plan and
funding for a cloud seeding project. The contractor applies
for a permit to cloud seed from the State of Colorado on behalf of
the project sponsors. Public hearings, public notification,
operational plans, proof of liability insurance, and demonstration
that the project will provide local benefits are all needed before a
permit will be issued. A Record of Decision is developed from
the public hearing to helps determine if a permit should be
approved, denied, or approved with terms and conditions that address
and/or resolve concerns.
How Can the Money be Used?
money is to be used to help the local water users fund well-designed cloud
seeding programs and help modernize programs to take advantage of new
technologies. Permits are issued for five months of winter
(typically November 1 through March 31st). A few examples of how the
funding is used follow:
- Some water user groups cannot fund a full five months of cloud
seeding, therefore the state funding helps them fully utilize all winter
months in their weather modification permits.
- There are uncertainties with cloud seeding, and additional funding
helps with the evaluation of effectiveness that is in question year in
and year out.
- One existing program purchased their own propane tanks rather than
renting them. This allow them to purchase propane from the least
cost provider and keep program costs down.
How to Apply?
Grants are currently
only available for permitted cloud seeding programs. The CWCB staff
works with contractors and project sponsors to determine programs in
operation for the year, then develop recommendations. However, the
priorities and grant funding levels are set by the CWCB director with
assistance from CWCB Board members.
What is the Application
Water user groups interested in leveraging the
Weather Modification Grants program will need to develop a plan and
funding at a local level, and then apply for a weather modification
permit. The CWCB can provide contact information for representatives
from cloud seeding contractors, existing permitted projects, researchers
and evaluators. For more information about cloud seeding or the
Weather Modification Grants program, contact
at 303 866.4807.
|Did You Know?
The State and the cloud seeding
contractors are required, by statute, to monitor snowpacks and are
not allowed to cloud seed indiscriminately. Snowpack thresholds are
called “suspension criteria” and are set at 175% of normal in
November and 120% -140% of normal on April 1st, using the NRCS
SNOTEL sites in and around the cloud seeding target areas. The
SNOTEL sites are checked and reported on regularly. Therefore,
cloud seeding boosts snowpacks a small amount, but it is within the
natural variability of the local climate. For the chart to the
right, green is the suspension criteria, black is the 30-year
average, and red is the current year’s data reported on every two
NOTE: All monies granted must be
contracted for and expended in the state fiscal year for which they were
approved (July 1 through June 30).