weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Bureau of Reclamation official Rinne dies at 68

Former longtime resident William Rinne started as a fisheries biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and rose to serve as the agency’s acting commissioner. Along the way, he helped craft a sweeping, multistate program to protect both endangered species and the use of the Colorado River for water and power generation.

He died Aug. 31 in Norwell, Mass., at age 68.

Rinne grew up in Nebraska. He received a bachelor’s degree from Peru State College in Peru, Neb., and a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He spent 30 years with the Bureau of Reclamation, most of it in Boulder City, where he worked as a biologist, area manager and environmental officer for the Lower Colorado River region.

It was there that he served as one of the architects for the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, which was signed in 2005 and provides protections for sensitive plants and animals along more than 400 miles of the river, from the western end of the Grand Canyon to the U.S.-Mexico border.

At the same time, the pact among local, state and federal stakeholders keeps the river free from conflict so water and power can continue to flow to Nevada, Arizona and California.

“It’s probably one of the most innovative, proactive agreements anywhere in the U.S., and Bill worked on that from the very get-go,” said Bob Snow, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Interior who had worked with Rinne since 1996.

Kip White, spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation, said, “He was a real hero on the river.”

Rinne was eventually called to Washington, D.C., to serve as the bureau’s deputy commissioner for operations and, eventually, acting commissioner for the entire agency until his retirement in 2006.

“I bet he was the first deputy director in bureau history who was a fisheries biologist,” Snow said.

After that, Rinne spent several years as water operations director for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and then moved to Massachusetts with his wife to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

In a statement, water authority General Manager Pat Mulroy said Rinne’s work on the river “left a legacy that will live on for generations.”

“While his knowledge of Colorado River issues was unsurpassed, it was Bill’s determination and calm demeanor that made him so successful,” Mulroy said.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Janice; his son, Jeramie Rinne, and his wife, Jennifer; his daughter, Jill Stutz, and her husband, Chad; his mother, Mary; four siblings, Don, Russell, Jack and Rosemary; and seven grandchildren.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Forecast projects 30-plus-foot drop in 2 years at Lake Mead

Lake Mead’s water level is projected to drop more than 30 feet in the next two years, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority is urging people to continue conserving water.

Lake Mead not affected by planned water releases

Water operations at Lake Mead will not be affected by a reduction in the monthly water releases from Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, according to Bureau of Reclamation officials.

Haaland: Infrastructure law aids drought resilience

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Sunday, Dec. 12, touted a recently signed $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, saying the law makes a historic investment in water and drought resilience.

Officials work on plan to leave water in lake

States in the lower Colorado River basin are developing a $100 million plan that will leave more water in Lake Mead over the next couple of years.

VP puts drought in national spotlight

Vice President Kamala Harris made the climate change case for two Biden administration initiatives Monday, Oct. 18, with the declining water levels of Lake Mead as a backdrop.

Boaters should expect changes at lake

Changes are coming for boaters at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Dire forecast: Projections point to deeper cutbacks for state

Deeper cuts to Nevada’s allocation of Colorado River water could be coming in the next few years, according to water level projections released recently.

Plan to extend I-11 omits Lake Mead option

As transportation officials mull the future of the important Interstate 11 build-out, one option is now off the table.

Lake bans pool toys

As the Labor Day weekend approaches, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is encouraging visitors to leave their pool toys at home. In the interested of public safety, the use of inflatable and noninflatable items intended for use in swimming pools have been prohibited.