Fulp honored

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

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.”


  1. Having known Terry for over two decades I can tell you that he is a hands on type of guy who was not afraid to get his hands dirty. My own story about him was when I was calibrating the flow parameters at one of the irrigation projects (Headgate Rock Dam) during a system waterdown. I had to open and close the diversion gate and develop the ratings for different opening levels. This required me to move the gate then take physical measurements of the opening. To say the least, the work was tedious and time consuming.

    So who drops by? Terry and the current Water Ops manager. Terry asks me what I’m doing and casually asks, “Anything I can do to help?” I look at him and say, “Sure, but it’s dirty work.” And with that, both he and the Water Ops manager hop in the muddy canal and start taking measurements. We complete the job in about an hour. As I said, he’s hands on.

    He made my job easier in more ways than one. A better boss could not been found.

  2. Nobody is more deserving of recognition than Terry Fulp. The entire Colorado River community respects and trusts his judgment, and his calm temperament has been critical to moving the basin past countless rough patches. He is a leader in every sense of the word.

  3. I had the good fortune of working with Terry and his staff when I was providing guidance on the hydroclimatic analyses for the Powell-Mead EIS in the mid-2000s. Terry was the smartest person in the room (PhD in Math and Computer Sciences) as well as the the most judicious. He moved the process forward by asking incisive questions and encouraging thoughtful deliberation, not through exhortation. This leadership style has made a deep impression on me and no doubt many others.

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