Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Southern Nevada Water Authority chief Pat Mulroy announced plans to retire Monday as word of her intent started leaking out. After more than two decades running the effort to provide water to the region, she said it was time to step away. A date for her retirement has yet to be set.
Her departure is big news; Mulroy has helped shape the region, playing a crucial role in Las Vegas’ success. The so-called “water czar” has had the vision and skill to leverage the relatively small amount of water Nevada gets from the Colorado River to provide for growth on the Strip and throughout the valley.
She is one of the foremost experts on water issues in the nation, particularly on the western drought and the Law of the River, which guides use of water from the Colorado River. And she has always been a forceful advocate for Southern Nevada.
Mulroy has also provided insightful leadership, creatively using the resources Nevada has to keep water flowing. And she has pushed the region, which in decades past never had a want for water, to conserve.
Along the way, she collected her share of detractors, including those who want to take her to task over minor things, but the proof of Mulroy’s ability and value can be seen in this: In the middle of a drought in the desert, the Las Vegas Valley is still growing because it still has water.
That’s not by chance or accident. Mulroy has been tireless in her efforts and has put the region in as good a position as could be expected. She has been worth her weight in gold and more, and we’re grateful for what she has done.
As she plans to leave, there is still considerable work to be done in the never-ending task of protecting the region’s water into the future. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is in the middle of some important projects that Mulroy launched, including a new pipeline into Lake Mead and plans to bring water from rural Nevada.
As water authority board members consider a replacement, they should seek Mulroy’s advice. For the past few decades, her advice has proven invaluable in providing what is best for the region, and the board would be foolish not to take it now. She has a tested leadership team, and Mulroy has been promoting her top deputy, John Entsminger, to replace her. He has been involved in all aspects of the authority’s operations.
SNWA board members should understand that now is not the time to try to bring in someone from the outside who doesn’t understand Nevada or the intricacies of the Water Authority, much less the complicated Law of the River that governs water use from the Colorado River.
The authority’s board should make sure Mulroy’s greatest legacy — water security for our desert region — is secure by promoting someone who can provide the same type of stable leadership for many years to come.