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 Secretary Praises President's Intention to Nominate Robert Johnson Commissioner of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary 7/21/06

WASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today praised President Bush's intention to nominate Robert W. Johnson as Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. Johnson, a veteran Reclamation manager who currently serves as Regional Director of the Lower Colorado Region, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Bob Johnson has led Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region since 1995. With its headquarters in Boulder City, Nevada, the region encompasses southern Nevada, Southern California, most of Arizona, and small portions of Utah and New Mexico.

"Bob Johnson's three decades of experience in managing major water issues in the West and his outstanding leadership qualities make him an excellent choice to lead the Bureau of Reclamation during this critical period," Secretary Kempthorne said today. "He brings all the essential tools we need to continue to develop consensus solutions to the West's diverse water supply needs."

Among his major accomplishments, Johnson initiated and directed significant changes in Colorado River management, including the first water sharing agreements between California, Arizona and Nevada and the first water supply guidelines to put California on a path to reducing its use of Colorado River water.

He played a major role in securing California's Quantification Settlement Agreements and the Colorado River Water Delivery Agreement in October 2003. Those landmark pacts address California's over-reliance on Colorado River water, allowing the state to live within its authorized annual share of 4.4 million acre-feet. The agreements allow the six other Colorado River Basin States to protect their authorized shares to meet future needs.

Johnson also helped to develop and implement the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, a coordinated, comprehensive, long-term multi-agency effort to conserve and work toward the recovery of endangered species, and protect and maintain wildlife habitat on the lower Colorado River. The program is the nation's largest, longest-term, most-innovative, federal/state partnership for river restoration and species conservation on a river system.

Johnson has led Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region since 1995. With its headquarters in Boulder City, Nevada, the region encompasses southern Nevada, Southern California, most of Arizona, and small portions of Utah and New Mexico. The region's programs include management of the last 700 miles of the Colorado River, extending from Lee's Ferry in northern Arizona to the Mexican border. The Lower Colorado Region operates and manages Hoover, Davis and Parker Dams and oversees numerous other facilities originally constructed by and still under Reclamation ownership.

The region also serves as Water Master of the Lower Colorado River on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. Under Johnson's direction, regional programs are administered by offices located in Phoenix and Yuma, Arizona; Boulder City, Nevada; at Hoover Dam; and in Temecula, California.

A Reclamation employee since 1975, Johnson began his public service career in the Mid-Pacific Region in Sacramento, Calif., and has held several leadership positions during that time, including Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Chief of the Water, Land, and Power Operations Division in the Lower Colorado Region, and in a management position in the Commissioner's Office in Washington, D.C.

Johnson has received numerous awards during his career, including the President's Meritorious Executive Award for superior accomplishment and management of Federal programs. The Award recognized Johnson's long term contributions in the management of water supplies for a multi-state and international region served by the lower Colorado River.

Johnson was reared in the West and graduated from the University of Nevada - Reno with a master's degree in agriculture and resource economics. A native Nevadan, Johnson is married and has two grown children.

If confirmed, he will replace former Commissioner John W. Keys III, who retired earlier this year. Deputy Commissioner Bill Rinne has been serving as Acting Commissioner. Rinne will continue to serve in this capacity until Johnson is confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn in as Commissioner.

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