Career water policy adviser nominated to lead water agency that oversees Lakes Mead and Powell

In this Oct. 14, 2015, file photo, a riverboat glides through Lake Mead on the Colorado River at Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nev. The key reservoir on the Colorado River is expected to match its record low level on Thursday, June 10, 2021. The dropping surface elevation of Lake Mead along the Arizona-Nevada border is the another sign of the drought's grip on the region | Associated Press file photo by Jae C. Hong, St. George News

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Camille Touton, a veteran congressional water policy adviser, has been nominated to lead the agency that oversees water and power in the U.S. West.

In this Aug. 13, 2020 file photo, a bathtub ring of light minerals delineates the high water mark on Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, near Boulder City, Nevada | Photo by John Locher/Associated Press, St. George News

President Joe Biden on Friday nominated Touton to be the next commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. If confirmed, the Nevada native will be a central figure in negotiations among several states over the future of the Colorado River.

Drought, climate change and demand have diminished the river that supplies 40 million people, and the agency is expected to mandate water cuts for the first time in 2022. Already, some states voluntarily have given up shares of their water under a drought plan.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Mexico all rely on the river that flows from the Rocky Mountains into the Gulf of California.

Touton was named deputy commissioner in January after working on water issues for various congressional committees and as a deputy assistant secretary in the Interior Department under the Obama administration. She would be the first Filipino American to lead the Bureau of Reclamation.

The agency is responsible for water in 17 states and power in 13. It’s the second-largest producer of hydropower in the United States, overseeing both Hoover and Glen Canyon dams. The agency manages 491 dams and 338 reservoirs, including Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the two manmade lakes where Colorado River water is stored.

Touton has undergraduate degrees from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and daughters.

If confirmed, Touton would succeed Brenda Burman, who now works for an Arizona entity managing a canal system that delivers Colorado River water to the state’s most populous areas.

Written by ASSOCIATED PRESS staff writers.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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