The board’s decision means that precipitation enhancement operations, or cloud seeding, will no longer be conducted by the High Plains Water District within its 15-county service area.

"In 1997, the water district held meetings in each of its district directors’ precincts to receive public comment about the precipitation enhancement program. The program found favor then and has operated as such during the past six years," said Manager Jim Conkwright. "However, the program has drawn criticism from many groups during the past several months."

Conkwright added that several political subdivisions within the water district boundaries have passed or are preparing to pass resolutions asking that the district halt the precipitation enhancement program.

"Since 1951, the High Plains Water District has worked with individuals, elected officials, and agencies to conserve and preserve area ground water resources. It is through this cooperative effort that we have achieved many worthy water conservation projects. However, discord over the precipitation enhancement program could have had detrimental effects on all our water district programs and activities. Therefore, the board felt that continuation of the program was not in the best interest of the district," said Conkwright.

He says the district must be focused on the future as it faces the many challenges of ground water management in the 21st century, including water quality, quantity, water use efficiency, and water rights. "We wish the very best to the other nine organizations who are conducting precipitation enhancement programs in Texas. Our decision was not directed toward them as a whole," said Board President James Mitchell.

Erica Goss is a public information specialist for the High Plains Water District.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com