Tag Archives: water conservation

#TDIWH—February 24, 1953: Birth of Pat Mulroy; 1815: Death of Robert Fulton

0224 Pat MulroyFebruary 24, 1953: Pat Mulroy was born. Patricia Mulroy is the general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Her job is to make sure that Las Vegas and the surrounding metropolitan area has enough water, now and in the future. Mulroy is the German-born daughter of an American father and a German mother. She was hired in 1978 when she was working for the University of Las Vegas to work in an administrative job at the Las Vegas Valley Water District. She became general manager of that organization in 1989 and in 1991 she was chosen as the general manage of the newly formed Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Because Las Vegas has one of the lowest priorities of water rights on the Colorado River, her tenure has been marked by some of the most innovative efforts to increase the region’s water supply and revolutionary ideas to conserve water. She has gone way beyond the usual approaches of low flow showerheads and low flush toilets. The Authority’s program to buy back turf grass in people’s yards at a price of up to two dollars a square foot has been called by some as a historic turning point in the war against municipal water over-use in the arid West.

She has been called ruthless, scheming and tough. And those are some of the nice things that people who have gone up against her say about her. She is also scary smart and not afraid to take on the biggest and the baddest opponents to get what she wants. And what she wants is what is best for the Authority and the people served by it. Some people say that she has mellowed over the years and is now approaching the task of squeezing more water out of a drought-stricken Colorado River with a more strategic approach.

“Her preferred strategy now [2010] is to weight it [Colorado River water rights] down with subsequent agreements so numerous that the contract is in effect suffocated. In her words, ‘Put enough agreements on top of it that it becomes meaningless.’ While her style remains blunt and no-nonsense, her grasp of the realpolitik of the Colorado River water users has grown more sure and subtle. She is a deal maker when necessary, looking to expand the possibilities for trading water rights or to provide incentives for others to compromise. She infuriated residents of northeastern Nevada and western Utah by pushing for a 285-mile pipeline to bring groundwater from the Snake Valley to Las Vegas but eventually struck a deal, although resentment remains and Utah is not yet formally on board.” (Barringer 2010)

Pat Mulroy is one of a kind. She has shaken up the good-old-boys network of water resources experts in the Western U.S. and we are all better off because of it.

Reference: Barringer, Felicity. 2010. “Las Vegas’s Worried Water Czar.” New York Times. September 28, 2010.

Commentary: The entire article is my opinion.

0224 Robert FultonFebruary 24, 1815: Robert Fulton dies. Today in Science History. Robert Fulton–Born 14 Nov 1765; died 24 Feb 1815 at age 49. “American inventor, engineer, and artist who brought steamboating from the experimental stage to commercial success. He did not invent the steamboat, which had been built in the early 1700’s, but rather applied his engineering skills to their design. He changed the proportions, arrangements, and velocities of already proposed ideas. In 1807, work was completed on the Clermont, the first steamboat that was truly successful, and the culmination of many years of work. It’s maiden voyage was on 17 Aug from New York City to Albany, a distance of 150 miles completed in 32 hours. A mechanical genius with many talents, he also designed a system of inland waterways, a submarine (Nautilus, 1801), and a steam warship.”

September 21, 1995: New Jersey Drought Hotline

0921 Dry birdbathSeptember 21, 1995New York Times headline–May Birdbath Be Filled? “Water Curbs Raise Queries. Can a birdbath be refilled from a bucket of water? Can dusty high school football and soccer fields be sprayed from private wells? Can a car be washed during a rainstorm? The answers given callers to New Jersey’s new drought-emergency telephone line: yes, no and yes, but only with the rainwater.

So goes life — and the dos and don’ts of outdoor water use — after government intervenes in a prolonged dry spell and orders people to start conserving. For now, the mandatory water restrictions imposed Sept. 13 apply to about three million people in 119 communities in northeastern New Jersey.

But, officials warn, millions more in New York City and much of the rest of New Jersey will face mandatory rules — and questions — unless far heavier rains than last Sunday morning’s arrive to revive the region’s reservoirs. Yesterday, Gov. Tom Ridge decreed similar mandatory restrictions over much of Pennsylvania, in an area affecting about 6.5 million people.”

September 20, 1981: Hackensack Water Expansion

Hackensack Weehawken Water Tower-Built in 1883

Hackensack Weehawken Water Tower-Built in 1883

September 20, 1981:  New York Times headline–Hackensack Water Plans Its Largest Expansion. “The future bills of the Hackensack Water Company will present, in stark dollars and cents, the financial legacy of the 1980-81 water shortage: A 47 percent increase for tens of thousands of homes and industries that were forced by state law to save water from last September to May.

The higher rates will generate $21 million in new income for the company. Both it and the state’s Board of Public Utilities, which approved the increase on Sept. 3, emphasize that it is in the best interests of Hackesack Water’s 800,000 customers to pay the money.

They say that new supplies can be developed with it, ending the company’s chronic water shortage and freeing customers from future threats of mandated conservation. The new rates, so the argument goes, are the best and only way to end the ”drought” and prevent future ones.”

August 17, 1918: Save Water and Win the War

0817 Save water win the warAugust 17, 1918: Municipal Journal editorial. Save Water and Help Win the War. “If nineteen cities of New York State would cut down their consumption to an average of 100 gallons per capita (which is probably more than is necessary) the result would be a saving of 75,000 tons of coal a year. Almost anyone who lived through last winter in the northern part of the country would have welcomed a minute fraction of one per cent of this amount last February, and may again next winter. It is, however, no longer the mere saving in dollars, although this alone would be well worth while (75,000 tons represents interest at 5 per cent on about six million dollars), but it may mean that much coal released for use in munitions factories, ships or other factors in the prosecution of the war.

The above figures are discussed more at length in an article in this issue referring to a campaign in New York State to effect a saving in coal by reducing waste of water, and similar efforts are being made by numerous other cities, following the attempt made by Municipal Journal a few weeks ago to arouse water works superintendents to this opportunity and duty. The Committee on Water Supply of the New York Conference of Mayors has sent to the water works officials of the cities of that state suggestions for bulletins to be printed in the local daily papers, which might well be made use of by cities in other states as well. One is devoted to arguments in favor of metering; another to suggestions of ways in which waste can be avoided. Among these suggestions are the following:

Have all leaky pipes and fixtures repaired immediately, and keep them in good order.

When closing your house for any period of time, see that the water is turned off to insure against a leak occurring during your absence.

Do not neglect leaking toilets and faucets. Large amounts of water are wasted through small leaks which you may think too insignificant to warrant attention. A leak 1/32 of an inch in diameter wastes 8 gallons an hour or over 5,000 gallons a month.

If care is exercised, when installing piping, to keep the hot and cold water pipes at least a foot apart, it will be unnecessary to “let the faucet run to get a cold drink.”

Don’t let water run to get it cold. Use ice, or draw some water off into a receptacle and put in a cool place.

Do not allow roof tanks to overflow. Eliminate this waste by providing tanks with ball cocks.

Don’t leave faucets open on cold nights this winter to prevent freezing of water pipes. Start now to have your pipes properly protected.

A stream 1/4 of an inch in diameter will waste 514 gallons an hour or over 370,000 gallons a month.

To determine the presence of hidden leaks, consumers whose services are metered should occasionally close all outlets and observe the meter to see if it registers or not.

Don’t keep the faucet open while you are washing or bathing. Draw off as much as you need and then turn off the faucet.

It costs just as much for coal, oil and equipment to pump and filter water that is wasted as it does to furnish water for useful purposes.

A gallon of water saved just now will help Uncle Sam to win the war.”

Commentary: Truly an astonishing editorial when viewed from 95 years later. Curbing water waste today is considered to be part of our duties as good citizens and stewards of the environment. Water/energy savings are also mentioned today but for reasons that involve saving the planet from global climate change. I guess I am having trouble wrapping my brain around the concept of saving water so that we can make more bullets.

September 21, 1995: New Jersey Drought Hotline

0921 Dry birdbathSeptember 21, 1995New York Times headline–May Birdbath Be Filled? “Water Curbs Raise Queries. Can a birdbath be refilled from a bucket of water? Can dusty high school football and soccer fields be sprayed from private wells? Can a car be washed during a rainstorm? The answers given callers to New Jersey’s new drought-emergency telephone line: yes, no and yes, but only with the rainwater.

So goes life — and the dos and don’ts of outdoor water use — after government intervenes in a prolonged dry spell and orders people to start conserving. For now, the mandatory water restrictions imposed Sept. 13 apply to about three million people in 119 communities in northeastern New Jersey.

But, officials warn, millions more in New York City and much of the rest of New Jersey will face mandatory rules — and questions — unless far heavier rains than last Sunday morning’s arrive to revive the region’s reservoirs. Yesterday, Gov. Tom Ridge decreed similar mandatory restrictions over much of Pennsylvania, in an area affecting about 6.5 million people.”

September 20, 1981: Hackensack Water Expansion

Hackensack Weehawken Water Tower-Built in 1883

Hackensack Weehawken Water Tower-Built in 1883

September 20, 1981:  New York Times headline–Hackensack Water Plans Its Largest Expansion. “The future bills of the Hackensack Water Company will present, in stark dollars and cents, the financial legacy of the 1980-81 water shortage: A 47 percent increase for tens of thousands of homes and industries that were forced by state law to save water from last September to May.

The higher rates will generate $21 million in new income for the company. Both it and the state’s Board of Public Utilities, which approved the increase on Sept. 3, emphasize that it is in the best interests of Hackesack Water’s 800,000 customers to pay the money.

They say that new supplies can be developed with it, ending the company’s chronic water shortage and freeing customers from future threats of mandated conservation. The new rates, so the argument goes, are the best and only way to end the ”drought” and prevent future ones.”

August 17, 1918: Save Water and Win the War

0817 Save water win the warAugust 17, 1918: Municipal Journal editorial. Save Water and Help Win the War. “If nineteen cities of New York State would cut down their consumption to an average of 100 gallons per capita (which is probably more than is necessary) the result would be a saving of 75,000 tons of coal a year. Almost anyone who lived through last winter in the northern part of the country would have welcomed a minute fraction of one per cent of this amount last February, and may again next winter. It is, however, no longer the mere saving in dollars, although this alone would be well worth while (75,000 tons represents interest at 5 per cent on about six million dollars), but it may mean that much coal released for use in munitions factories, ships or other factors in the prosecution of the war.

The above figures are discussed more at length in an article in this issue referring to a campaign in New York State to effect a saving in coal by reducing waste of water, and similar efforts are being made by numerous other cities, following the attempt made by Municipal Journal a few weeks ago to arouse water works superintendents to this opportunity and duty. The Committee on Water Supply of the New York Conference of Mayors has sent to the water works officials of the cities of that state suggestions for bulletins to be printed in the local daily papers, which might well be made use of by cities in other states as well. One is devoted to arguments in favor of metering; another to suggestions of ways in which waste can be avoided. Among these suggestions are the following:

Have all leaky pipes and fixtures repaired immediately, and keep them in good order.

When closing your house for any period of time, see that the water is turned off to insure against a leak occurring during your absence.

Do not neglect leaking toilets and faucets. Large amounts of water are wasted through small leaks which you may think too insignificant to warrant attention. A leak 1/32 of an inch in diameter wastes 8 gallons an hour or over 5,000 gallons a month.

If care is exercised, when installing piping, to keep the hot and cold water pipes at least a foot apart, it will be unnecessary to “let the faucet run to get a cold drink.”

Don’t let water run to get it cold. Use ice, or draw some water off into a receptacle and put in a cool place.

Do not allow roof tanks to overflow. Eliminate this waste by providing tanks with ball cocks.

Don’t leave faucets open on cold nights this winter to prevent freezing of water pipes. Start now to have your pipes properly protected.

A stream 1/4 of an inch in diameter will waste 514 gallons an hour or over 370,000 gallons a month.

To determine the presence of hidden leaks, consumers whose services are metered should occasionally close all outlets and observe the meter to see if it registers or not.

Don’t keep the faucet open while you are washing or bathing. Draw off as much as you need and then turn off the faucet.

It costs just as much for coal, oil and equipment to pump and filter water that is wasted as it does to furnish water for useful purposes.

A gallon of water saved just now will help Uncle Sam to win the war.”

Commentary: Truly an astonishing editorial when viewed from 95 years later. Curbing water waste today is considered to be part of our duties as good citizens and stewards of the environment. Water/energy savings are also mentioned today but for reasons that involve saving the planet from global climate change. I guess I am having trouble wrapping my brain around the concept of saving water so that we can make more bullets.