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Environmental organizations bringing precipitation to Red Rock Canyon

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Posted at 7:12 PM, Sep 02, 2022

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — We are seeing extreme drought levels in Southern Nevada and to help, the Desert Research Institute will be releasing particulates into our clouds to provide more precipitation throughout the valley.

Nevadans are living through an intense drought with water resources at all-time low scientists may have found a way to provide some relief.

Pauline VanBetten with Save Red Rock says the cloud seeding project will be critical to replenishing underground aquifers and preserving Red Rock Canyon.

The idea is to create water, bringing more precipitation to the Spring Mountains and possibly benefitting our valley.

By shooting silver iodide, a natural non-toxic compound into clouds under the right conditions, the chemical compound activates ice particles in the clouds, increasing the likelihood of snow or rain.

"The Joshua Trees are dying, the desert is brown, there is no water in the springs and the springs support 80% of our wildlife in this area," said VanBetten.

The particulates will be released during the winter into the air from generators located near Lee Canyon. They expect rain or snow will then fall in the Spring Mountain area and the water runoff will go into the Red Rock National Conservation Area.

"It puts waterfalls and ice boxes in canyons and it puts swimming holes in Pine Creek, and all the things that we love so much when there is water in a Red Rock Canyon," said VanBetten.

VanBetten says we could also expect more snow in Lee Canyon this winter.

DRI's has been cloud seeding in Nevada since the 1960s. Its last project targeting Lee Canyon generated more than 5,500 acre-feet of water, which is about 1.8 billion gallons.

"As we focus on the science, it's crucial that we work with other community organizations to fund, place and promote the use of our equipment,” said DRI’s Program Director Frank Mcdonough

According to VanBetten, our aquifers play a significant role in the ecosystem.

"Our mission is to get the wildlife and fleur and fauna in red rock canyon to start to thrive and give them a boost while we are in this drought situation."