Posted on | August 19, 2009 | 7 Comments
August 19, 2009
To: Chairperson Shari Buck, Vice Chair Steven Kirk, Director Susan Brager, Director Tom Collins, Director Duncan McCoy, Director Steve Sisolak and Director Lois Tarkanian, Board of Directors, Southern Nevada Water Authority
I write in praise of Patricia Mulroy, or, as she prefers, Pat. No place in the country has a smarter, harder working, more formidable water manager than Pat Mulroy. And nowhere deserves her more than Los Angeles.
Pat Mulroy is a miracle of energy, intelligence and ambition. Plus, let it be noted, she’s hot.
While Pat was planning the pipeline whose fate you will vote on this week, out of necessity she also developed one of the most impressive outdoor conservation programs in the West. She shook up the old boy, Water Buffalo network on the Colorado River. She unified rival Southern Nevada water providers in a single, dedicated agency.
She (and you) built a second intake, and are now at work on a third into Lake Mead. She (and you) built tunnels, water treatment facilities, pumping stations. She is to Las Vegas, noted Oregon State University professor Michael Campana recently, what Robert Moses was to New York.
This is exactly why you should stop her.
Pat is brilliant when she’s under pressure and coming up with solutions, when she shows adaptability and ingenuity. In other words, she’s best learning on her feet. Pat is stubborn, ferocious and ruthless when she becomes stuck on an outcome, regardless of changing sets of facts and circumstances. The latter is the case with the pipeline.
Getting Great Basin Desert groundwater for Las Vegas has been her mission since her appointment to general managership of the Las Vegas Valley Water District in 1989.
She hadn’t been in the job a year when she staked 148 claims for the groundwater of 30 valleys. Pat’s fistful of paper water, accounting for half of the notionally available groundwater in the state, is what gave her the clout and bait to form the SNWA.
But twenty years on, reflexive pursuit of the pipeline has left Pat hardwired as a liar and cheat. Among the lawyers’ fees that you have approved over the years were funds to a Carson City firm that worked exhaustively to prevent the results from SNWA’s own pumping model, years and millions in preparation, from ever reaching the State Engineer. Or you. Its predictions for what would happen to the Great Basin were simply too catastrophic to allow airing during key Spring Valley hearings.
All the while, Pat has produced sheaf after sheaf of politically finessed monitoring agreements and promised that collapse of life in the Great Basin due to Las Vegas pumps is impossible because of these documents. Meanwhile, her deputy has bragged to television reporters that she could get any project permitted.
Can she? Can Pat? You are part of that process. Now that modeling work is being done in concert with the Department of Interior for use in both the EIS/EIR and the State Engineer’s hearing over Snake Valley claims, you are being asked to green light a project, but without the best science, without the data that Pat doesn’t want the world to see.
Why the push from Pat? You don’t need to approve the pipeline this week. You meet every third Thursday of the month. What you need to ask yourself is: If you deliberately turn a blind eye to catastrophe foretold and that catastrophe does come to the Great Basin, what will your legacy be to Nevada? And Pat’s legacy?
You deserve the facts and Pat deserves a new job. Pat has served Las Vegas indefatigably. She is best at conservation and deserves a bigger remit doing just that in a place where there is the most water to be saved, and most bumbling incomprehension of how to do it. That is California.
Los Angeles, California