‘…if the system [#ColoradoRiver] crashes, there will be no winners’ — Pat Mulroy

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR
Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR

From the Palm Springs Desert-Sun (Ian James):

She noted that water levels in Lake Mead are expected to drop more than 20 feet this year, and she predicted that while the Rocky Mountains now have a bit more than their normal amount of snowpack, the Colorado River will face growing stresses in the future. Those stresses have been compounded this year by California’s record drought.

“It is an interconnected web. You cannot push on one end of it without seeing the consequences on the other end,” Mulroy said. She added that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides drinking water to nearly 19 million people, has no choice but to take water out of Lake Mead.

“And the rest of us in that basin cannot start screaming. We can’t be parochial. We can’t sit in Las Vegas and wring our hands and say, ‘Oh my heavens, the lake’s going to drop even further,’ ” Mulroy said. “There is great strength in that interdependence because there is a shared stewardship of the system.”

She said that’s a sharp contrast from the past, when battles over water rights often have been fought in court.

“What we never think of ourselves as is that we are citizens of a water system. We never look at it as a larger system,” Mulroy said. “We have to, as the water community, silence the strident voices. If we don’t silence the strident voices, this can spin out of control real quickly.”

“We’re telling the community there (in Las Vegas), if the system crashes, there will be no winners,” she added. “If the system crashes, everybody crashes, and it doesn’t matter where you are on that system, so protecting that system is all-important, and understanding our role as a citizen of that basin and of that water system is going to be enormous for us. It is a real mind shift.”[…]

“The time has never been more critical than now,” Mulroy said in an interview after her speech. “I’m a big believer that the future is about being very flexible, being very adaptive, having as many enabling agreements as you can possibly put in place on the table and avoiding court at all costs.”

“We are going to have very difficult water conditions,” she said. “We all have to live with less, and we have to be able to back each other up.”

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Leave a Reply