Time for cloud-seeding

Published: Saturday | December 5, 2009

The Editor, Sir:

Alfred Sangster's piece in the Gleaner of Tuesday, December 1, was on a topic that I had also started to write to the editor about. Unlike many previous letters which I have written but not submitted, I was driven to do so this time as his suggestions on how to tackle the problem are in concert with many of mine.

I would suggest, though, that the measures so far espoused are of medium- and long-term benefit. These cover macro and mini storage to maximise storage of the rainfall that we do have. These will do nothing to quickly alleviate the current crisis. The technocrats within the water ministry and the National Water Commission (NWC) should consider the feasibility of a cloud-seeding programme. This is a tried and proven technology of injecting silver iodide into already-existing cumulus type clouds at a certain altitude to stimulate more moisture.

I should perhaps say revisit the feasibility, because I recall as a small child when it became public knowledge that the NWC had conducted a secret cloud-seeding programme in 1975. At the time, the NWC had claimed success in quadrupling its storage levels in the Hermitage Dam. Honduras and various States in the USA have successfully used the technology many times. Venezuela is also currently looking to use Cuban equipment to conduct a cloud-seeding programme to alleviate a crippling drought now being experienced in that country.

more needed

Clearly, more needs to be done at the macro-storage level for Kingston. The last major project was the Yallahs pipeline project completed in 1986 to take water from the Yallahs and Negro rivers in St Thomas to the Mona Dam. However, this is Jamaica, where strategic planning largely remains reams of paper produced by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and not taken as a practical guide to action by our governments.

As a resident of Kingston who suffers from the perennial water-restriction schedules of the NWC, I urge some urgent discussion and action as, indeed, 'Water IS life'.

I am, etc.



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