The decision over whether or not to continue cloud seeding in Ward County has sparked plenty of debate. We spoke with voters and an advocate for the program about the issue.
Driving around town, you’ve probably seen these signs, ‘Vote ‘No’ on Weather Modification.’ In Ward County, there’s a strong push to bring an end to Weather Modification, also known as cloud seeding.
We spoke to 10 voters about the issue and they all say they’re voting no.
“Too many chemicals. Doesn’t do as good as they say. Let Mother Nature take care of things her own way,” said Mike Lemere, voting no, Minot resident.
George Bomar is a Weather Modification Specialist in Texas. He’s been involved with weather modification for more than 45 years.
He said voters don’t need to worry about the chemicals, like silver, used in cloud seeding.
“The amount that’s showing up in soil and in water is far below any possible threat to not only humans who might consume the water, but even livestock,” Bomar said.
Pat Murphy, a member of the Weather Modification Board, said a growing number of farmers have problems with the practice.
“It started out as a small group, and now it’s a fairly large group. Their opinion is, I’m sure you’ve heard the story, that we’re moving the rain around and we’re splitting up clouds and we’re chasing the rain away,” Murphy said.
“The damage that they’re doing by attempting to stop the hail is ending up stopping more precipitation and causing a lot more drought damage,” said Erica Copeland, voting no, Minot resident.
But Bomar said a sample case in Texas disputes that idea. The town of Big Spring stopped seeding after 15 years of doing so.
“He said within a few weeks, into the spring where they were not seeding, he had farmers and ranchers coming in and complaining about the fact that conditions were drying up and found out that he was not doing his seeding program, and said, ‘We really need that to start over again,'” said Bomar.
Other voters have problems with the cost of the program.
Last year, Ward County spent $126,000 on cloud seeding.
Some voters we spoke to off-camera said that kind of money could be used by homeless shelters, food pantries or teachers.
“There’s so many different things: education, especially pre-K funding for headstart. Programs like that for the younger kids I think would be important,” said Copeland.
“We don’t need the tax-payer dollars paying for stuff like that. Put it to other things. Fix our streets, take care of our roads, take care of things more important,” Lemere said.
As you fill out your June ballot, a “Yes” vote means you want cloud seeding to continue.
A “No” vote tells the county you want weather modification to end.
If the measure does pass, Ward County’s participation will not resume until late July.