The decades that were, 1989-2009

Posted on | August 17, 2009 | 3 Comments

Patricia Mulroy, SNWA general manager. Photo: SNWA Patricia Mulroy, August 2009

OWING to events out of Nevada and Utah, the regular Monday feature, “The week that was” is pre-empted this week for “The decades that were.” The Southern Nevada Water Authority board meeting scheduled this week comes only two months shy of the 20th anniversary of the (then) newly appointed Las Vegas water manager Patricia Mulroy stunning Nevada with applications for half of the estimated groundwater then legally unclaimed in the state — for Las Vegas.

This Thursday, after two decades of largely unfettered growth in Greater Las Vegas, Mrs Mulroy’s board will give her an up-or-down vote on whether they wish to proceed with construction of the almost 300-mile-long pipeline, estimated cost $3.5bn, that tapping this water in five initial basins would require. To watch it live online starting at 9am, click here.

  • From the Las Vegas Review-Journal
  • “The water district filed 148 water right applications to appropriate ground water in 30 different hydrographic basins throughout Nevada.” — State Engineer of Nevada, October 1989
  • “We’re looking at breaking ground [on the pipeline], most optimistically, the second half of this next decade.” — Patricia Mulroy, April 19, 1990, Las Vegas Business Press, five months after her appointment to the general manager position of the Las Vegas Valley Water District
  • “It just fell on us, absolutely fell on us.” Patricia Mulroy on being surprised by Las Vegas water shortages — July 24, 1990, Associated Press
  • “We were issuing ‘Will Serve’ letters left and right because we believed the myth that we had all the water we’d ever need.” — Patricia Mulroy in 2007 recalling the 1991 decision to require developers to share in the gamble of building without assured water supplies, Las Vegas Sun
  • “It has to happen. There are no alternatives.” — Patricia Mulroy, USA Today May 21, 1991 on why Las Vegas needs Great Basin groundwater
  • “There is an emotional, almost irrational attachment people have to water out here.” — Patricia Mulroy, July 13, 1992, Chicago Tribune
  • “You can’t expect that this community, all these new people and all these babies and these families are going to just go away.” — Patricia Mulroy explaining why Las Vegas could not stop growing, April 10, 1994, New York Times
  • The Las Vegas pipeline is “the singularly most stupid idea anyone’s ever had.” — Patricia Mulroy, February 1994, High Country News, when it seemed that Las Vegas might receive surplus Colorado River water instead
  • “Trying to stop growth would be like throwing your body in front of a Boeing 747.” — Patricia Mulroy, October 13, 1996, Las Vegas Review-Journal
  • “We’re responsible, essentially, that this valley can become what it wants to become and that water is not a limiting factor.” — Patricia Mulroy, October 20, 2002, Las Vegas Review-Journal
  • “Growth in this valley isn’t driven by water, it’s driven by land releases.” Patricia Mulroy, October 20, 2002, Las Vegas Review-Journal
  • An Owens Valley cannot and will not occur in Nevada.” — Patricia Mulroy, September 14, 2004, testifying before the Senate Committee on Public Lands and Forests
  • “Utah is in a precarious position. When one state tries to stop development of another’s state’s water supply, things can get dicey.” — Patricia Mulroy to the editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune, July 14, 2006
  • “Now bear in mind, we’ll be in Lincoln County first. And in the Lincoln County basins, there’s no one. No one!” — Patricia Mulroy, April 16, 2007, after learning that the State Engineer of Nevada awarded her authority 40,000 acre feet of water per year from a key target basin, enough rival developer Vidler Water says is enough to justify building the pipeline. Forty thousand acre feet of water could serve 80,000 families for a year.
  • “It’s just a model!” — Patricia Mulroy responding to projections by her own hydrologist that the proposed pumping would cause catastrophic drops in the water tables of target valleys,  June 2008, Las Vegas Sun
  • “Without some sort of safety net like the in-state pipeline, you don’t have water in hydrants. You can’t put out a major fire. You’re going to live like Amman, Jordan. You’re going to get water once a week.” — Patricia Mulroy on why she called the board vote to shore up support for the pipeline, Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 7, 2009
  • “All of us at the Southern Nevada Water Authority hope that the time when we have to tap into those ground water supplies is in the distant future.” — Patricia Mulroy, Las Vegas Sun guest editorial, August 16, 2009
  • “We must complete the permitting process so we can be ready to build the needed facilities at a moment’s notice.” — Patricia Mulroy, Las Vegas Sun guest editorial, August 16, 2009


3 Responses to “The decades that were, 1989-2009”

  1. David Zetland
    August 17th, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

    great quotes! The Mark Twain of growth 🙂

  2. admin
    August 17th, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

    You’ve made a very tired water blogger smile. Thank you.

  3. groundwaterhegemony
    August 18th, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

    A truly remarkable story of capturing groundwater. Following in the footsteps of documentaries such as Cadillac Desert and Hollywood’s Chinatown, the movie is certain make a splash at festivals such as Sundance.

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