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U.S. Senate confirms new Bureau of Reclamation commissioner

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Brenda Burman as the 23rd U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner.

Burman, who has 25 years of experience working on western issues, with an emphasis on water and natural resources, is the first female to ever lead the Bureau. Her confirmation on Nov. 16 comes more than 142 days since being nominated.

Burman earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arizona College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.

According to Reclamation, from 2006 to 2008, Burman served as Reclamation’s Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Deputy Assistant Secretary. She comes to Interior after working as the Director of Water Policy for Arizona’s Salt River Project. Prior to that, she worked for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, The Nature Conservancy, and Arizona Republican U.S. Senator Jon Kyl.

“I am deeply honored for the opportunity to lead this organization,” said Burman in a Reclamation press release. “The employees of Reclamation are dedicated to working through the most difficult water issues and managing water in the West. I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke, the Administration, and our many partners, contractors, and customers to solve our most pressing water issues.”

Burman will direct an agency of more than 5,000 employees across 17 western states who help maintain 475 dams and 337 reservoirs that provide more than 30 million acre-feet (10 trillion gallons) of water for 31 million people in the West, according to Reclamation.

The Commissioner is also responsible for Reclamation’s maintenance of 53 hydroelectric power plants that annually generate, on average, 40 billion kWH – about 15% of the nation’s hydropower – and provides one out of five Western farmers with irrigation water for farmland that is the source of much of the nation’s produce.