The fight for water: Nevada taps Lake Mead and hunts for 'Utah' water

Published: Monday, May 14 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

The ranching operation of some 1,750 cattle — in operation since about 1870 — supplies nearly 35 percent of the beef for the church's welfare system.

The church has appealed those water right applications it lost to the water authority, as have scores of other groups such as American Indian tribes, water conservation groups, ranchers, farmers and several Utah counties, setting up another fight in which Mulroy will be at the center.

Those who have done battle with the former soccer mom in a power suit know it will be a war not easily won.

"She is a very capable executive," said Hejmanowski, "somebody you would underestimate at your peril."

Fresh into her job as general manager of the authority, Mulroy suspended issuing any new permits for water for 18 months until she could get a handle on how much water was being used where, and what the available supplies were.

Davis said people still refer to it as the "Valentine's Day Massacre." She's gone head to head with casino operators and instituted new rules that if any potable water is used in water features at a business, it has to be offset by 50 times by yanking out turf or instituting new conservation measures.

"I think we are very rapidly reaching that point where we are going to have to come to grips with urban water use," she said. "We don't have enough water to waste anymore. That is the bottom line."

The attention of the seven states that make up the upper and lower Colorado River basins will be fixed on this summer's release of a two-year federal study probing the availability of water over the next 50 years.

Its findings will provide a framework for the states to find solutions that will produce certainty from a resource that is inherently uncertain: water.

As Barry Wirth, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation puts it: "Everyone is at the table. Everyone has a stake in this."

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com
Twitter: amyjoi16

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