The Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Regional Director, Terrance J. Fulp, Ph.D., received the Meritorious Service Award from the Department of the Interior this week. Fulp has devoted his 27-year federal career to the Lower Colorado Region by making lasting contributions to improving operations and developing solutions for complicated water issues.
Fulp was at the center of one of the telling scenes in my book:
It was early 2000 when Terry Fulp saw the first glimmer of the problems to come. The hydrologist was part of a team doing the math on a proposal to change the way the federal government operated Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two big reservoirs on western North America’s iconic Colorado River.
In 2000, Lake Mead was full, water lapping at Hoover Dam’s spillway gates. The full reservoir was a reassuring sight for the residents of the water-dependent farms and cities dependent on the Colorado’s supply. But gathered in a nondescript Southern California office park going over calculations with a team of technical experts, Fulp realized that things would not always be this way.
The team had been working “all hours of the day and night” on the final numbers needed for a federal report. As they sat down over pizza and beer one evening, one of the bosses asked a question: “If you could put something on a bumper sticker about what we’ve learned, what would it be?”
Fulp’s answer was simple: “Lake Mead will go down.”