Lawmaker hopes to increase rainfall in New Mexico via weather modification

A state legislator tries to make it rain. No, really, a House Democrat hopes the Legislature will fund a weather modification program that will help reduce cloud precipitation over New Mexico.

Weather modification means taking a cloud that would form rain or snow and “sowing” it, giving those clouds an extra boost.

“If we take advantage of when we have rainfall, however limited it is, and increase it a bit, it would make a huge difference in our air and our climate and maybe it will take us from a drought constant to one under stable conditions,” said Rep. Candie Sweetser, D-Deming.

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

Experts speaking on behalf of the bill say the clouds would be seeded with iodized salt, which would not be harmful to people or plants during rains. Experts say clouds only stay seeded for up to 30 minutes.

People who work in the agricultural industry came to the committee in strong support.

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

Rep. Sweetser says the weather changes would be mostly focused on the southeast side of the state for farmers and on the north to generate more snowfall. They are asking for $1.2 million to fund this program.

The seeds are delivered to the clouds by air.

The bill was unanimously approved by the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. He is now moving into credits and finance.