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Water use and preservation may be going increasingly high tech. In Mali the government has promoted a three-year project to seed clouds with chemicals using the same technology employed during the ski season in Aspen or Zermatt. The chemicals cause the clouds to create snow, which then melts and falls as rain. In a country that has seen a 20 percent decrease in rainfall over the past three decades, cloud seeding has enabled a 50 percent increase in agricultural production in affected regions since the program began in 2007, at a price tag of $32.5 million dollars, much of which, the government claims, were one-time start-up costs.

Modern technology is also being applied to water usage and rights. The University of Idaho and the Idaho Department of Water Resources teamed up to create a tool that uses satellite technology and a series of algorithms to measure the amount of ‘evapotranspiration’ that takes place on a particular piece of land. A certain percentage of water used on land is absorbed back into the water table, while the rest evaporates and goes into the atmosphere. In essence, evapotranspiration is the water that is truly ‘used.‘ By measuring it, governments, communities, farmers and other users get a more accurate measure of what they used and whether they are over or under their allotment. This tool offers an objective picture of who is using what when. It can allow communities or entities to prove when they use less water than they had rights to, and bank the surplus for drier times. According to the Post, the information from the METRIC tool (Mapping EvapoTranspiration with High Resolution and Internalized Calibration) has already settled water rights disputes between states, allowed for the conservation of salmon habitats through cooperation with ranchers; and prevented an expensive effort to eradicate invasive saltcedars in Texas (it seems, they use less water than expected).


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