Former U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman will be the next chief executive of the Arizona entity that distributes much of the state’s water from the Colorado River to major metropolitan areas.
Burman will lead the Central Arizona project at a time when the seven states in the river basin are being asked to drastically reduce their water use due to climate change and drought. Burman said she was up for the challenge.
Burman is the entity’s executive strategic advisor. She begins her new job in January, replacing outgoing general manager Ted Cooke, the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District Board of Directors announced Friday.
Burman led the Bureau of Reclamation from 2017 to early 2021 under the Trump administration. While there, she threatened federal intervention if states that rely on the Colorado River did not take action on a drought contingency plan. The plan was intended to support water levels in major reservoirs along the Colorado River.
Arizona, California, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah finally reached an agreement.
States are once again on the hook for major water cuts as Lake Mead and Lake Powell continue to drop, although not subject to a firm deadline. The Bureau of Reclamation recently released a plan that includes an option for unilateral federal action and is seeking public comment.
Meanwhile, Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada line and Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah line have each dropped to around 25% capacity. The lower they fall, the greater the risk that electricity cannot be generated by their dams and that water cannot be supplied to 40 million people and the agricultural industry in the western United States. raised.
Mandatory water cuts are already affecting Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.
Cooke said Burman’s more than 25 years of experience in the water, energy and environmental sectors and a fresh perspective will help guide the Central Arizona project through a difficult time. She will work closely with the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
“There’s plenty to do and no time to waste,” Burman said in a statement Friday. “I will focus on navigating the path of CAP over the next few years, which I believe will set the course for the next few decades.”