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Water Today Title November 27, 2020

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Update 2018/1/29


This story is brought to you in part by Biomass Recycle

By Cori Marshall

According to Clément Falardeau, Public Relations with the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCCC), there is a law on the books in Québec "that provides a framework for those who would artificially cause rain."

The Act respecting the Artificial Inducement of Rain was adopted in the early 1970s and has been on the books ever since. At the time of the second reading then Member of the National Assembly (MNA) for Laurier, René Lévesque said the law would "not change much in the economics of this very marginal industry."

As you will see Lévesque's words would prove to be prophetic, though at that time in 1970 there was a context for providing a legal framework to geoengineering projects.

The need to present Bill 6, as it was known, to the Québec National Assembly was due to the fact that "experiments and operations that cause precipitation have been practiced in Québec for almost twenty years," said Paul Allard, Minister of Natural Resources at the time and Union Nationale MNA for Beauce.

During the debate of the second reading, Allard outlined that the two principal companies carrying out the work in artificially inducing rain were "Weather Engineering Corporation of Canada which,(...) did experiments on behalf of Québec North Shore, Gatineau Power, and Canadian International Paper." The other major player was Howell Associates who "conducted experiments for Alcan and Shawinigan Water and Power from 1952 to 1957."

From the early 1950s, there were companies that were active in weather engineering, and there was no legislation governing their actions. At the time of the adoption of the Act respecting the Artificial Inducement of Rain, there may have been a need to provide oversight to an emerging industry.

Essentially the Act makes artificially inducing rain illegal without the authorization of the Québec government. In fact, Article 2 states that "No person shall artificially induce rain in any territory unless (they have) been declared qualified to do so by the Government acting on the recommendation of the Minister."

Anyone who desires to artificially cause precipitation has to apply for permission from the Ministry using the forms provided in the Regulations of the Act. The cost of the certificate granted by the Québec government is $50 the first years and $25 for subsequent renewals.

Falardeau clarified that "there are two forms, one for the application for a certificate of authorization and the other for the application for an authorization to operate."

When asked how frequent requests are made under this law Falardeau replied that since it was adopted "no certificate of authorization or authorizing operation has been issued." He added that over the decades "only one request was made to the Ministry," and it was made by a documentary filmmaker.

This piece of legislation has been active for nearly five decades now and has never been used. Artificially inducing rain could have impacts on weather systems and therefore needs a framework. If in the future there is a need to make rain in Québec, at least there are laws and regulations to guide the actions of those who would undertake the endeavour.


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