Montana's water committee will discuss changes to weather modification laws, also known as cloud seeding.

The 10-member Water Policy Interim Committee meets March 9-10 to consider their options; the committee will also discuss the future of the Montana Water Court.

Cloud seeding is typically the injection of silver iodide into a cloud under certain atmospheric conditions to produce precipitation as rain or snow. The technique may also be used to reduce the size and severity of hailstorms. Some research shows cloud seeding increases hydrological output in basins, while others, claim that cloud seeding is akin to "cloud rustling" and decreases downwind precipitation. Weather modification techniques were developed in the United States in the 1940s. The Montana Legislature passed its first weather modification laws in 1967.

Due to concerns primarily from eastern Montanans about cloud seeding in western North Dakota, the 1993 Montana Legislature passed legislation that was more restrictive on weather modification operations, including increased environmental and public meeting requirements. Since 1993, the state has not permitted any weather modification activities.

The WPIC will also consider a proposal for future activities for the Montana Water Court. The Montana Legislature created the court in 1979 primarily to resolve pre-1973 claims to water. The court may also aid district courts in water controversies and review Department of Natural Resources and Conservation decisions on water right permits or changes.

The WPIC has been studying the court's role--and if it should perhaps have a permanent future.

The WPIC is led by Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman, chairman, and Sen. Jeffrey Welborn, R-Dillon, vice-chairman. Other members of the committee are   Sen. Jill Cohenour (D-E. Helena), Sen. Bruce “Butch” Gillespie (R-Ethridge), Sen. Jon Sesso (D-Butte), Rep. Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls), Rep. Carl Glimm (R-Kila), Rep. Bradley Maxon Hamlett (D-Cascade), Rep. Shane Morigeau (D-Missoula), and Rep. Walt Sales (R-Manhattan).

The meeting will be livestreamed at and will be broadcast on the Montana Public Affairs Network (MPAN). For more information on the committee’s activities and upcoming meeting, including a full agenda, please visit the committee’s website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.

Committee Website:

Committee Staff: or 406-444-1640

The Legislative News.