Namibia still waiting feedback on cloud seeding

30 Jun 2017 07:20am
By Sawi Hausiku
SACRAMENTO, 30 JUN (NAMPA) – Namibia is still waiting for Cuban experts to provide feedback on whether cloud seeding is an effective strategy to use to generate rainfall as a solution to its drought crisis.
A team of experts from Cuba visited the country in October last year to assess the environmental impact and viability of cloud seeding.
The three dams that supply the City of Windhoek with water were very low and aquifers were drying up limiting the city to draw water from these sources.
This forced the Namibian government to look into other options, such as investigating the possibility of applying cloud seeding technology to improve rainfall.
Cloud seeding is a form of weather modification and a way of attempting to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from the clouds.
Nampa spoke to the Director of the Pacific Institute’s Water Programme in Sacramento California, Heather Cooley who said there are questions around whether cloud seeding is effective in the United States of America (USA).
She said many states in the US have tried it, but there is very little evidence to show that it generates water.
“Others have even suggested that it takes water from one area and applies it to another. So it can exacerbate challenges on the area where it is applied,” she explained.
Cooley told Nampa journalists who were recently in the USA on a Media Cooperative Programme from 06 June to 24 June covering the USA’s response to the effects of drought and climate change.
She however said there are new technologies being employed to evaluate whether the strategy is effective.
There are also concerns of a possible health hazard, the long term environmental impact and the ecosystem that could be destroyed by the practice given the potential harmful substances such as silver iodide or calcium chloride used in the process.
Chief Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Romeo Muyunda on Wednesday said they are still waiting for Cuban experts to provide feedback.
'Feedback from the Cubans was expected by around this time already,' Muyunda said.
He noted that due to financial constraints, the idea is shelved for future consideration.
Cooley advised Namibia could first do things that prove to save water such as grey water usage which is re-using water to wash clothes or irrigate plants.
During the severe drought of 2015/16, water users in central Namibia were required to cut usage by up to 30 percent. In April 2016, the city of Windhoek launched a Zero Tolerance to Water Wastage policy, under which it would disconnect or fine anyone using potable supply to water gardens or wash cars.
Managing water leaks in distribution systems, homes and offices could also save water.
Cooley said some of the large utilities in Sacramento were losing water from 25 to 50 per cent through leaks without knowing.
“Retrofitting infrastructure is also a cost effective method to save water,” she said.
Retrofitting is altering an item by adding new parts or features, such as replacing a showerhead with a water saving one.
Cooley conducts and oversees research on an array of water issues, such as the connections between water and energy, sustainable water use and management, and the hydrologic impacts of climate change.