What with the Colorado River Basin (CRB) facing more difficult water times ahead with a water-saving deal in the works, I found it a fascinating coincidence that Ken Reid sent me a PDF of an article about former SNWA head Pat Mulroy that Matt Jenkins wrote in the High Country News about 14 months ago. I thought it was appropriate to post a PDF of the article and proffer a few comments.
Here is Emily Green's excellent profile of 'The Chosen One' from 2008 and Abraham Lustgarten's article from June 2015.
Mulroy is a lightning rod for sure. She's had a children's book written about her titled, A Hero Named Pat. A villain named Catherine Case bears an uncanny resemblance to Mulroy in Paolo Bacigalupi's cli-fi epic, The Water Knife.
For many it's love her or hate her. I certainly do not harbor hatred for her - more like a grudging admiration, perhaps. I even semi-facetiously suggested that she should be the USA's 'Water Czar' or head the BuRec. I also seriously suggested she take charge of the Bay-Delta kerfuffle in California. Talk about kicking'...
I do love the way she took the 'water buffaloes' - the good ol' boys water club of the CRB and Western water - to school. Imagine that - a brash, smart, flashy blonde who looked more like an ex-showgirl than a WaterWonk. Gees, she had two degrees in German, for cryin' out loud! But she didn't take any crap from anyone. She encouraged her CRB neighbors and colleagues to think seriously about climate change and its effect on water availability. In her later years she softened her 'tough gal' approach and started preaching collaboration and cooperation. Hey, whatever it took.
She thought outside the box to get more water for her precious Las Vegas, the economic engine for my former home state of Nevada, which some would argue (as I do) got screwed badly when the Colorado River's water was allocated. She didn't view 'The Law of the River' as something to be worshipped, but something that had to be worked around.
Mulroy got Las Vegas thinking about conversation, especially outdoors. Indoor conservation? Not so much, although she might have been concerned about return flow credits (so I've heard). She aggressively pursued rural eastern Nevada's groundwater, a struggle that is still unresolved.
I posted a number of times about Mulroy, including an item titled 'Mulroy as Moses' (double entendre intended) in which I compared her to New York's Robert Moses, who for 30+ years was the 'Master Builder', who, despite having never held public office, essentially dictated the nature of growth in the New York City metropolitan area and elsewhere in the state. At one point he had 80,000 people working for him.
Mulroy neither supervised nearly as many nor commanded a region as populous as the New York metro area like Moses, the other 'humble public servant' (my words). But it can be argued that her decisions' effects spread far beyond the Las Vegas metropolitan area and Nevada and affected the entire Colorado River basin - a quarter million square miles and tens of millions of people who live in the basin and its virtual watershed. So I suspect she would give Moses a run for his money in terms of the era and people affected. She would argue that she was not promoting growth but just following the dictates of the Southern Nevada political leaders and their constituents: if growth is good, more is better.
I wonder if Bob Moses would have argued the same.
"As God is my witness, I will never be thirsty again." -- apologies to Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell