Los Angeles Times 10 February 1991 By JACK CHEEVERS
“All of the suits were eventually rejected by the courts, although one filed by a Glendale church was not decided until 1989. But county lawyers say that the costs of defending against a new round of claims that might arise from seeding is too high to risk resuming it.
“It’s just a business decision. . . . If only one or two homes were lost, and the county was found liable, that could be $1 million right there,” said Assistant County Counsel David Kelsey.
Under the old program, 17 rented seeding machines were placed on the upwind side of the San Gabriels. When storm clouds passed over, the machines were turned on, spewing silver iodide crystals, which the wind carried into the clouds. The crystals attract water vapor, providing a center on which raindrops can form.
Runoff following the seedings was captured in the county’s Pacoima, Big Tujunga, San Gabriel and Cogswell reservoirs. From there it was released into “spreading grounds,” where it seeped down to underground water tables. Numerous water agencies pump water from those pools, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
In an Oct. 24 report, county Public Works Director T.A. Tidemanson said the seeding program boosted annual rainfall over the San Gabriels by 15%. He described the program as “a cost-effective and productive way to increase local water supplies.”
During one 10-year period, he said, the operation yielded an extra 44,500 acre-feet of water, at a cost of $542,000. At current prices, that volume of water would be worth nearly $9 million. An acre-foot is enough water to supply a family of four for one year.”