May 15, 2012
PNP comment: Once again, I disagree with the attitude of this article. The water in the West is NOT shrinking. What a ridiculous notion. There may be more demand upon what water there is, but it is not shrinking. This is a fear tactic. – Editor Liz Bowen
Published: Monday, May 14 2012 9:22 p.m. MDT
Pat Mulroy, general manager for Southern Nevada Water Authority, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Winston Armani, Deseret News
LAS VEGAS — Pat Mulroy isn’t willing to gamble on the future of the 2 million residents who need the Colorado River to keep Lake Mead full enough to quench their thirst.
An unwavering 11-year drought has reaffirmed the harsh reality that two-thirds of Nevada’s population is caught in the grip of the fickle and foundering water supply of the Colorado River, for which this year is the third driest since 1965.
Never mind last year — the third wettest — which provided welcome relief but only reiterated to Mulroy that you can’t depend on the undependable.
“So after having experienced a very wet year last year, we’re learning a very valuable lesson,” said Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. “One good year won’t get us out of this protracted drought period.”
Nevada’s quest for water has powered a maelstrom of controversy in Utah over the water authority’s desire to tap groundwater in the eastern basins of Nevada. Native American Indian tribes; multiple counties such as Salt Lake, Millard and Juab; and western desert ranchers and farmers have strenuously fought Mulroy in what they see as a water grab.
Although the groundwater pumping effort wouldn’t involve one well sunk in Utah land, critics say it will draw the underground river down to disastrous levels because the hydrological basins are connected on the Utah-Nevada border.
It is a proposal that is uncertain and years away but is part of the water authority’s 50-year water resource plan, which requires Mulroy to shore up future supplies, and look to secure what she already has with Lake Mead.
To Mulroy, that means dealing with 1,050 — a dreaded number and the threat she sees just a couple of dry years down the road.