Pat Mulroy oversees the operations of the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) and the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD). The Water Authority is responsible for acquiring, treating and delivering water to Southern Nevada. Mulroy was a principal architect of the Authority, which has allowed Southern Nevada to grow and thrive during a time of water shortages and drought. Pat is known nation wide as a leader in water management and conservation. She has negotiated numerous agreements with her neighbors on the Colorado River, including international agreements with the country of Mexico. She also currently serves as president of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and as treasurer of the Water Research Foundation. She is on the board of the National Water Resources Association and is a member of the American Water Works Association. Recently at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference I was able to sit down with Pat and discuss some ideas about water. Below are highlights from our conversation that was also made available in real time at the conference through twitter.
Q: What got you so interested in water?
Having been involved in government in Southern Nevada for 40 years, there is no more critical issue to this area than the water supply. There would be no Las Vegas if there were no reliable water source. When I got the opportunity to work in this field, I welcomed it.
Q: What is your current outlook on water and the Colorado river?
Some may find it hard to believe, but I have an optimistic outlook for the Colorado River. Despite the hydrology issues, nowhere else have seven states come together to find common solutions to common challenges.
Q: What are some of the best things we can be doing to improve the water situation in Southern Nevada?
The future is not about silver bullet solutions. It’s about a mosaic of pieces that come together for a solution that meets everyone’s needs. One of the foundational pieces is conservation.
Q: Has the Southern Nevada Water Authority been successful offering rebates for water conservation?
Southern Nevada is extremely proud of leading the nation in conservation. Our efforts in conserving water have allowed us to save 29 billion gallons of water while adding 400,000 new residents. Our Water Smart Landscapes rebate program has generated the removal of more grass than every other turf rebate program on Earth combined.
Q: Do we need increases in the price of water to stimulate conservation?
I have never thought pricing alone was an appropriate conservation tool. You need people to change their attitudes, and you don’t make that happen by sticking your hand in their pocketbook. Pricing can only serve as a gentle reminder.
Pat recently announced she would be retiring from the Southern Nevada Water Authority sometime in early 2014. She has been a leader in water for over 22 years and is known for her knowledge on water in the West. She is also recognized as one of the foremost experts on water issues in the nation. She helped save millions of gallons of water. We can only hope Pat’s retirement is just from Southern Nevada Water Authority and not completely from water. Let’s hope she takes another position where she can continue the good work she has done in water conservation.