BY: Warren Tenney

In Memoriam: Steve Olson, 35 Years Dedicated To Water

Published Jan 02, 2017

Steve Olson arrived at AMWUA in the summer of 2005. He had the unenviable task of assuming the job of executive director from Roger Manning, who had been an institution at AMWUA for more than twenty years. Steve would face the challenge of guiding a non-profit through a difficult economic recession. But Steve was not new to the world of water policy or to city issues. His career in water spanned thirty-five years and included stints at the City of Scottsdale as its chief lobbyist and at the Arizona Department of Water Resources as its legislative liaison. Through the years, he worked on numerous water issues for Arizona.

Steve knew everyone involved in water politics and everyone knew Steve.  He was not the type to call you on the phone. He preferred face-to-face meetings, often over lunch. 

Steve left AMWUA in January 2012 after having surgery for his then recently diagnosed cancer. But he did not stop. He went on to serve at The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund and was active until he no longer could be.  

AMWUA is a small office and staff members have always kept up with each other's lives.  Because of this, we will remember Steve as a caring husband and father who worried most about the well being of his wife and children and celebrated their successes with great pride.

Steve was a presence at every water related meeting, conference and event. With his signature white beard, tousled hair, affable smile and hearty chuckle, he stood out from the crowd. We couldn’t help but notice his absence from the Colorado River Water Users Association Conference this December, and we will feel it for a long time to come.

For 48 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit