The Bureau of Reclamation announced that Carly Jerla will lead the Department of the Interior’s efforts, as a senior water resources program manager, to develop updated operating rules for Colorado River reservoirs.
The Colorado River is a critical resource in the U.S. West because seven basin states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — and 29 Tribes and the Republic of Mexico depend on it for water supply, hydropower production, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and other benefits.
A number of operating rules and agreements within the U.S. and with the Republic of Mexico expire at the end of 2025.
In March 2021, Interior created a critical senior leadership position within Reclamation to lead development of the next generation of operating rules for major reservoirs in the basin. This position will ensure that new operating rules are developed in a thorough and transparent manner — working closely with the seven Colorado River Basin states, 29 tribes, water districts, non-governmental organizations, and users in Mexico that are served by the Colorado River.
“Reclamation has worked alongside our partners in the basin to ensure that plans are in place to respond to the current drought conditions, but we must continue to proactively develop innovative solutions that are sustainable beyond 2026,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “Carly Jerla will continue to play a key role in our collaborative approach to updating the Colorado River Basin’s operating rules and developing additional tools and agreements that recognize the needs of nearly 40 million people who rely on the river.”
“Carly Jerla is the right person for this new position,” said Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Carly has exceptional technical and modeling skills, as well as a thorough understanding of the importance of working with our partners throughout the basin. She understands the importance of working together to find solutions – across agencies and across borders. During these times of drought and scarcity, Carly will build trust, build partnerships, and find solutions. She brings insight and integrity to her work, and we’re very pleased she will lead our intensive efforts in the months and years ahead.”
Jerla’s career has been devoted to improving the technical foundation for Reclamation’s operational decisions across the basin, as well as enhancing partners’ and stakeholders’ ability to engage in basin decision-making. Jerla joined Reclamation in 2005 as a graduate student at the University of Colorado’s Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES). She leads a Modeling and Research Team based at CADSWES, which has responsibility for research and development of modeling applications and decision support for water operations and planning in the Colorado River Basin. She obtained a bachelor of science in civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a master of science in civil engineering from the University of Colorado.
Reclamation is a federal agency under Interior and is the largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the U.S. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation opportunities and environmental benefits.