On Getting Along

Shaun McKinnon’s great reader piece on the retirement of Larry Dozier after 42 years working western water issues has an interesting coda. The story’s drama is the great tale of Glen Canyon Dam and the 1983 flood. (I like to call it “the year they nearly lost Glen Canyon Dam”, though that’s perhaps a bit theatrical.)

The story’s closing is a point that I’ve heard quite a few times in interviewing people for my book, and I’ve wondered if it’s Polyanna, or if this is a key element of how the western water system works:

“I’d be on a plane for a conference and I’d look around, and if I didn’t know a lot of the people, I’d think I was on the wrong plane,” he said.

What he learned was that, no matter how contentious the talks, no matter how long the meetings dragged on, the people in the room could never make it personal.

“After a while, you figure out if you’re going to get something done, you better get along,” he said. “And the next thing you know, you’re friends. You can trust them to promote their viewpoints and defend their interests, but you can also trust them to be honest.”