In praise of Pat

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

Dear Directors,

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.

Yours sincerely,

Emily Green

Los Angeles, California


7 Responses to “In praise of Pat”

  1. David Zetland
    August 19th, 2009 @ 11:24 am

    Noooo — don’t send her to California! We already have too many supply siders (and thus NO end to the “shortages.”) Send her to Africa — they don’t have enough dams and infrastructure 🙂

  2. Jo Anne Garrett
    August 19th, 2009 @ 11:38 am

    Emily, what a poet and a prophet you are! Your incisive view is served beautifully by your loving suggestions for action. What fun!

  3. Michael Campana
    August 19th, 2009 @ 11:52 am

    Great post.

    I think she needs to go to Georgia.

    Hey, I recommended her for BuRec Commissioner:

    Would she have shaken up the BuRec or what?

  4. Susan Lynn
    August 19th, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

    Pat has done some very good things, but she seems desparate. At the Spring Valley, one of her staff people admitted they had made planning mistakes: failed to anticipate the growth, now severe slump; the length of drought; the over-appropriation of the river; and the possible climate change. Those are pretty good indicators of failing water planning 101. And most certainly, she doesn’t want her Board to see the groundwater hydrological models that show serious drawdowns and impacts. So who’s calling Pat “green queen” with this kind of potential destruction that will more than duplicate Owens Valley? What happens when the Great Basin, under similar drought cannot produce the water? If money’s short now, watch the finanical cards fall! It’s a plan for disaster, this 7 foot diameterm 280 mile pipeline. We call it a pipe dream.

  5. Leslie
    August 19th, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

    Here’s a thought for Pat: rather than try to grab water from the desert to satiate Las Vegas, why doesn’t she get Nevada to pay for building and operating a desal plant on the California coast? California can use the water and in exchange let Nevada have a portion of their Colorado River water.

  6. John Bass
    August 19th, 2009 @ 11:57 pm


    August 22nd, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

    Pat Mulroy fits the Las Vegas, Nevada scene like a glove as she epitomizes those traits which guarantee “press.” She is tenacious, presents the “face” of someone totally self-assured, willing to be “brash” while skillfully reading the tea-leaves.

    Being a woman and possessing these traits, I believe, she has essentially neutered those males with whom she interfaces. She emboldened SNWA with a swagger her compares in other States, most notable along the Colorado River find totally distracting. I recall at a Hydrogolist conference in Flagstaff, Az several years ago, the Director of Az Dept of Water Resources in his remarks to this group, noted how s number of the Colorado River representatives had in secret (or so they thought) passed the hat and collected approx. 2 million dollars as part of campaign to undermine a position then being championed by SNWA. When it came time for the rep for SNWA to address the group, the opening comment was … “we’ll see your 2 million and raise you 20 million” … a comment catching the group with their proverbial pants down.

    The “press” which Pat Mulroy receives makes her … larger than life … whether she is in fact a force larger than life, I do not have a clue, but it’s sure interesting to watch.

    Respectfully submitted,

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