President Joe Biden has picked M. Camille Calimlim Touton, a deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation and former congressional staffer, as his nominee for the bureau’s top job.
Touton, whose selection as commissioner of Reclamation was announced by the White House on June 18, has spent much of her career as a congressional aide, most recently as a senior staffer at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Earlier, Touton was an aide at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Natural Resources Committee, both of which authorize funds and oversee policy for the Dept. of the Interior, Reclamation’s parent agency.
During the Obama administration, she was Interior Dept. deputy assistant secretary for water and science
Touton’s nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), who chairs the transportation and infrastructure panel’s water resources and environment subcommittee, said in a statement released in January—when Touton was appointed a deputy commissioner at Reclamation that she is “a master of the complicated issues of Western water policy who fully understands the grave threats posed by climate change and unpredictable drought cycles.”
Interior said in a January statement that, as a House transportation panel aide, Touton was the lead staffer on resilience provisions in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.
Touton has bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and communication studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University.
In its long history, Reclamation has been responsible for many major water projects in the western U.S., including Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam.
The amount of new construction work undertaken by the bureau has declined since the post-World War II period. But it has emphasized modernizing its infrastructure and also a focus on resilience and dam safety.
Water management remains one of Reclamation's most important missions—the bureau is the largest U.S. wholesale water supplier and operates 338 reservoirs.
Reclamation also is the second-largest hydropower producer in the U.S.