SMUD Preparing For Next Drought With Cloud-Seeding Project
SMUD wants to increase the amount of water that will flow into its reservoirs when the next California drought hits.
The utility wants to double the size of its cloud seeding operation.
”We’re in a wet period it seems right now, but every year is different so we need to be ready for whatever comes our way,” SMUD civil engineer Dudley McFadden said.
McFadden says hydropower is key to decreasing SMUD’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Cloud-seeding works when silver iodide particles are sprayed up into a saturated cloud.
They act like a nucleus, which attracts super-cooled water vapor, which freezes into ice.
Once the ice becomes heavy enough it falls and melts to become rain.
“We estimate 3 to 7 percent and I can’t be any more precise than that,” McFadden said.
There are critics.
Despite the unknowns, SMUD is seeking to expand its cloud-seeding ahead of the next drought, planning for the time any extra rain will be welcome.