Now playing
06:50
In a drought? This tech can literally make it rain
Now playing
02:32
McDonald's is putting cameras in dumpsters. Here's why
Now playing
03:53
Watch this drone swarm replant a burnt forest
Now playing
01:50
Watch the country's first firefighting robot in action
Now playing
03:36
Could this be the cure to our plastic problem?
Now playing
01:35
Could mushrooms be the key to replacing plastic?
Now playing
01:42
These bacteria turn industrial emissions into fuel
Now playing
01:43
Why this startup is making honeybees smarter
Now playing
02:01
These energy kites can go where wind turbines can't
Now playing
02:37
A vaccine against cancer? These dogs are the first patients
Now playing
03:50
How the world's biggest brands plan to end garbage
Now playing
04:33
New York's secret weapon against big storms? Oysters
Now playing
04:58
From a drop of blood, this company can predict what your face looks like
Now playing
03:39
The startup fighting mushy bananas and shriveled strawberries
Now playing
03:04
Could this giant floating pipe clean up 90% of ocean plastic?
Now playing
05:50
Is algae the food of the future?

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on June 18, 2018

(CNN Business) —  

Don’t call them the weather gods, but this company can actually make it rain.

North Dakota-based Weather Modification International uses planes to target clouds and draw out more rain from them.

The concept, called cloud seeding, has been around for decades. But there is new urgency due to climate change and a rapidly growing global population, which have disrupted global water supplies.

By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Weather Modification describes cloud seeding as “an enhancement” of the natural precipitation process. The technology makes storms more efficient by getting additional moisture out of clouds.

“If there [are] no clouds in the sky that have any moisture in them, then we can’t do anything,” Brian Kindrat, an aircraft captain at Weather Modification, told CNNMoney’s Rachel Crane. “What we can do is tap into what is there and assist mother nature.”

To do this, pilots target clouds with lots of moisture and inject small amounts of an inert chemical, which is a silver iodide mixture. The water in the clouds condenses around the new particles and becomes heavy. Then, it falls to the ground as precipitation.

“The idea is that once we’re on top of a storm, as this passes through any liquid water, it’s going to freeze it and turn it to snow, so it can fall out of the cloud,” Kindrat said.

Cloud seeding didn’t get much attention until 2017 when the National Science Foundation funded a study to determine its effectiveness. Weather Modification, launched in 1961, provided planes for the study.

The company sees cloud seeding as part of a solution for droughts.

“We aren’t going to solve large climate shifts in areas, but if you went back and you looked in California and said if we had an additional 10%, 15%, 20% of snowpack and precipitation over the last 10 years … it would be significantly different,” said Neil Brackin, president of Weather Modification.

Snowpack is packed snow that melts slowly. It feeds streams and rivers as it melts.

Companies are also interested. Idaho Power, which serves over 500,000 customers and has 17 hydroelectric power plants, invested more than $3 million dollars in a cloud seeding program to boost the snowpack in Idaho’s highest mountains.

“That’s what feeds our streams and rivers anid feeds our hydro system later in the summer and fall and that’s really when we need that extra energy,” said Shaun Parkinson, water resource leader at Idaho Power.

As a result of the cloud seeding program, it’s seeing an 8% to 15% percent increase in snowpack. On average, that means it can power an extra 60,000 homes, according to the company.

The company has also seen a 300% return on its investment, which is equal to $9 million dollars worth of water that otherwise wouldn’t have fallen onto mountain peaks.

But Idaho Power isn’t the only one to benefit, according to Weather Modification.

“With cloud seeding a program such as this, it’s a huge benefit to someone like Idaho Power, but that additional water is also there for the municipality. It’s there for agriculture, it’s there for consumption. So everybody i