The U.S. Senate has confirmed Brenda Burman as the first woman to lead the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. As Reclamation’s commissioner, Burman will oversee some 5,000 employees. The Bureau of Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States operating 338 reservoirs, nearly 500 dams and accounting for more than 8,000 miles of irrigation canals in the western U.S.
“I am deeply honored for the opportunity to lead this organization,” said Brenda Burman. “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.”
The Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, applauded Burman confirmation and expressed his enthusiasm in saying, “Finally! After more than 142 days, I’m excited to welcome Brenda Burman to lead the Bureau of Reclamation. Brenda is a veteran of the Bureau and her extensive experience on water projects across the country will be an incredible asset for the Department. After senseless and unprecedented hold-ups in the Senate, we can finally move forward with key water projects across the country.”
Burman most recently served 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 U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. Burman served as Reclamation’s Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2006 to 2008.
Burman earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arizona College of Law. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.
Burman’s confirmation received the endorsement of both of Arizona’s Senators. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said, “Brenda Burman’s deep background in thorny Western water issues will serve her well in leading the Bureau of Reclamation.”
“Brenda brings a wealth of knowledge on federal water policy and drought conditions in the West forged through years of service at the Department of Interior,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said upon her nomination in June.
In addition to the management of its dams and reservoirs, Reclamation also provides water for 140,000 farmers accounting for 25 percent of the nation’s fruit and nut crop and 60 percent of the nation’s vegetables. Reclamation produces 15 percent of the nation’s hydropower and 40 billion kilowatt hours of energy.