By Jim Stanford on November 9, 2011
It seems any enterprising engineer or dreamer looking for an easy handout from state government could hit up the Wyoming Water Development Commission.
On the heels of recommending $300,000 for a Green River watershed study — possibly an end run for yet another ill-advised dam proposal — water managers are seeking $2.4 million for more cloud seeding.
Yes, cloud seeding. The latest request comes on top of nearly $12 million the Wyoming Legislature has given the agency to pump silver iodide into the clouds above the Wind River, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre mountains, with no measurable results and in violation of wilderness protections.
The goal is to boost snowpack and increase runoff in the Green and Wind rivers, presumably to graze more cattle in the desert. Barry Lawrence, project manager for the Wyoming Water Development Office, calls cloud seeding a “long-term water management strategy,” the News&Guide reported.
Lawmakers might as well be wandering the desert with a forked stick.
Think of how many millions of gallons of bottled water Wyoming could buy with that funding. For $14.4 million, the state could afford to have tanker ships filled from countries that have excess — say, Ireland — and transport several lakes’ worth of water to Cheyenne.
What is the value of the relatively few cattle the water would help feed? $14.4 million buys a lot of beef, or a lot of hay. The state could pay a dozen ranchers $60,000 each for 20 years for that sum.
Wyoming’s Republican legislators pride themselves on fiscal conservatism, yet they will hand over an astounding amount for such an asinine scheme, especially when the money could be better spent on job training or child care.
Maybe they believe in superstitions. Then again, given the dry weather in Jackson Hole of late, ski bums soon will be out in the cold performing a snow dance.
(Photo by William Henry Jackson)