Bob Lynch: The 101st Senator for Water and Power

By Kris Polly

Bob Lynch passed away on August 29, 2021. He was an honorable family man who never said no to a friend in need. Bob was also the go-to western water and power attorney for countless people and multiple associations, and he was a tireless advocate for his clients. His absence on legislation and potential policy changes is already felt and will be for decades. For the better part of the 30 years during which I have been working on western water issues, the solution to many people’s problems has been, “Call Bob Lynch.” He was a constant presence and active participant in all federal western water- and powerrelated issues. In many ways, Bob was like the 101st United States senator for water and power issues. While that may sound like an overstatement, those who worked with him know that getting to Bob was like lobbying Congress. Many senators, House members, committee staff, and personal office staff respected Bob for his encyclopedic knowledge and sound counsel. If you phoned Bob and asked him for his assistance, whatever legislation or amendment you were working on had a good chance of success. If Bob was not involved, there was very little chance of success. The number of times Bob testified before the Senate and House committees must be a record. While Reclamation commissioners and other federal officials have come and gone, Bob was always the constant hearing witness. With his departure, a great burden has been shifted to the shoulders of his western water and power attorney colleagues.

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and the president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at