The Nevada Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved $489,426 to fund the Desert Research Institute cloud-seeding program this winter.
The program has been operated by the university system for the past 20 years, and is designed to increase the amount of moisture Nevada's mountains receive from winter storms.
Arlen Huggins of DRI said they estimate the program has increased the snowpack by 60,000 to 80,000 acre-feet of water each year for the past 10 years - about 65,000 acre-feet last winter.
The program uses ground-based generators - basically cannon-like devices which fire silver iodide and other chemicals designed to increase rain or snowfall - into moisture-laden storms as they pass over Nevada.
The primary effort is focused on the Walker-Carson River and Tahoe-Truckee watersheds. But there are also generators in the Ruby Mountains and Tuscarora area in eastern Nevada and the Toiyabe Mountains.
Gov. Kenny Guinn, chairman of the board, questioned why a similar program hasn't been organized to help feed the Colorado River drainage system if this one is so successful.
Huggins agreed it would work, especially if the seeding program was done far up the Colorado River drainage system in Colorado.
Guinn asked him to look into the possibility of Nevada and other downstream users of the Colorado waters contributing to such a project. He said the result could be more water for the Las Vegas area and for users in Arizona, California and other areas served by the Colorado River.
Contact Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.