13 Aug 2009

Pat Mulroy's WMDs

Both aquadoc and jfleck mentioned that Pat Mulroy has called for an "up or down" vote from her board on approving a $3.5 billion "in state" pipeline that will take water from rural areas in the Snake Valley, which lies in Nevada and Utah.*

Emily Green covers the "human" aspect of the water czarina:
In daring the board to vote against the project that has been the focal point of her career, she told the Review-Journal that uncertainty about the community’s water supply would “spill over into our ability to recover economically. The banks will go crazy.” The R-J story continues: “The worst-case scenario involves a drop in Lake Mead so severe that it cuts the valley off from most of its present water supply.” And Mulroy continues: without some sort of safety net like the in-state pipeline, “you don’t have water in hydrants… You’re going to live Amman, Jordan. You’re going to get water once a week.’
Ok, so Mulroy is daring a bunch of elected officials to deny her plan to keep their constituents from dying of thirst.

(Oh, and I've been to Amman -- it DOES have water in the fire hydrants and 24/7 water pressure, so she's full of sh*t.)

Let's assume that they vote to spend their constitutents' money on a project that will bring glory to her, dewater the basin and not do anything to address Vegas's unsustainable path. Congrats, you just voted to pay the steward for re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic!

That point -- as witty as it may be -- is not my main point. My main point is that Mulroy is responsible for the "shortage" in Vegas. That's because she's responsible for cheap water in the area. Since cheap water has spurred demand, it has also drained Lake Mead. So if you want to blame someone for Mead is drying out and a $ multi-billion pipeline, blame Mulroy.

Why didn't she raise prices and balance supply and demand in Vegas? Because she's pro-growth (developers), pro-engineering (the third straw into Lake Mead and pipeline will cost ratepayers a LOT), and pro-power (for herself).

If she raised prices 5 years ago, her job would have been boring. No headlines. Just quiet competence.

In fact, I think she's drying out Lake Mead to get $$ for her pet project (the "Pipe Immortalizing Pat Mulroy"), and the PIMP will be out there -- forever -- to remind us about power-mad water managers. (Apparently, Schwarzenegger is also interested in getting his name on a dam or two -- he's a big guy.)

And the bad news is this -- she will win. Utah has rolled, the Board will forgo fiduciary responsibility to their constituents and the environment (since an unsustainable Vegas will hit the wall anyway -- just farther in the future), and the PIMP will be built.

In 5-10 years, we will look back at her scare tactics and all the damages from the pipeline and we will see how Pat Mulroy is the George Bush of water. She told us "trust me, there are WMDs shortages that will kill us the children!" even though there are none. We trusted him and we suffered. We should not trust her.

Bottom Line: Pat Mulroy is not a water manager, she's a pro-growth, anti-sustainable megalomaniac eager to expoit fear to get what she wants -- not what's best for her customers.
* Utah just rolled over, approving a 36,000 af export of water from the Snake Valley to Vegas.

Addendum: Nobody caught the typo [MWDs > WMDs] in the title. Damn it -- proof my stuff!


  1. Wow! Could you be a little more clear on where you stand, please?

    Actually, I tend to agree with you, but is it possible Ms. Mulroy is following the boards' lead and not really pushing them down this road as you imply? Managers can be replaced, and the last time I checked, the directors make policy and decisions for the managers to carry out. I refuse to believe she is so strong willed and influential that the directors can be cowered into something they themselves didn't want to do.

    Las Vegas has always been about growth and extremism, but whose fault is that in the end, but for those in the directors' seats?

  2. Anonymous--you have it backwards. Not only the SNWA board follows Pat like she was the pied piper, but so do the local government entities. The SNWA Board members are not elected to that board, just appointed from the local city/county councils/commission. She has been allowed a strangle hold on the entire valley through the cloak of the "Authority" designed to allow secrecy in anything that truly matters.

  3. Mea Culpa. I did not realize the SNWA board was appointed (I'm not from NM). In this case, I not only see the dilemma, but can also see the potential for really atypical city-county dynamics - even if they're not happening now.

    However, I still cannot fathom how one person can be so influential in such fundamental issues as city planning, County planning, water resource planning and management, and virtually every other aspect of life in the Vegas area unless the Governor, Legisalture and many other key State and County officials (including the state engineer) are not seeing the same vision (or nightmare).

    Are you sure the majority of New Mexicans are wary of or opposed to the Las Vegas growth design?

  4. Anonymous #3 has confused the real Las Vegas (in NM) with that troublesome piece of Nevada desert. The southwest would be safer if Ms. Mulroy were the water czar of Las Vegas, NM. Strike that; it's too nice of a place and doesn't deserve her kind.

  5. Great post, David. I think you hit the nail on the head with something that has been left unsaid.

    Love the 'Bad Ass' turtle - is there some relationship to the Mulroy post? Ha ha!

  6. Sounds like she's perfect for LV, then.

  7. @Anon #3 -- fear of water shortage is a powerful tool. Seen Chinatown?

    @Anon 2 and 4 -- thanks

    @aquadoc -- coincidence, but the turtle is fearsome!

    @albionwood -- if only Vegas had to use LOCAL water :)

  8. Las Vegas springs rang dry from over-pumping in the 1960s. It used to have a buoyant supply.

    Re: Mulroy. She was appointed precisely to do this project. She built SNWA around the project, promising the rival districts that joined a piece of almost 900K afy water, 3 times the region's Colorado River allocation. Tho SNWA will never get that kind of water, it might eventually get half of it. Pimp is only a skeleton tube. It can sprout all kinds of arteries and more and more LV claims can eventually be exercised.

    Aquadoc, I agree. David nailed it. Enough of the scare tactics.

    Is Pat forcing her board to do this? She's forcing the vote, yes, but she's no more forcing them to do this than butchers force people to eat steak. That said, she enjoys the knife work.

  9. WaterSource/WaterBank14 Aug 2009, 14:12:00

    Mulroy and the Board of the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) have had an open window for SIX YEARS to accomplish something of historical proportions. Rather than the expected rape the critical habitat of the desert for a few measley acre feet, the SNWA could have investigated and chosen to develop a new non-tributary water of a million af/yr to keep Lake Mead full and generating $2 billion worth of renewable energy. Development of the new Source ironically would not have upset any of their grandeous plans and would save them several hundred million dollars. With a minimal amount of creativity, Mulroy probably could have gotten California, Arizona and the Bureau of Reclamation to provide the necessary funding.

    In addition to the drought scenarios, further depletions to the CO River can be expected due to oil shale development, a diversion of 400,000 af/yr from the Green River to the Denver area and of course the always looming indian water right matters.

    Mulroy and the SNWA Board members were offered a complete FREE confidential disclosure to any attorney of their choice to verify that the various aspects of the Source were accurate.

    Nevada Power investigated the Source two years ago and notified SNWA that the Source was "definitely plausible".

    Mulroy continues to say to the public that there are "no other alternatives" ...

    Wonder if Mulroy would like to bet on it ... !

    WaterSource/WaterBank waterrdw@yahoo.com Retired Water Rights Analyst

  10. I read this in the B&C newletter just after your piece about Pat and Las Vegas. I seems beautifully appropriate. It is attributed to Upton Sinclair.

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."


Read this first!

Make sure you copy your comment before submitting because sometimes the system will malfunction and you will lose your comment.

Spam will be deleted.

Comments on older posts must be approved (do not submit twice).

If you're having problems posting, email your comment to me