Bureau of Reclamation Banner

Traditions, Talent, and Teamwork (Transcript)

Julianna: Reclamation's mission is to supply the West with what we need and what we need is water.

Jeff: Of all the federal agencies – It's always had the reputation as a can-do agency and that come from its background in construction…

Holly: We manage the water and power for the 17 western United States

Hillary: It discovered the program was pretty extensive, and its not just design of dams but its developing and maintaining water resources just in general.

Mark: Delivering the water and power to the American people – (smiles).

NARRATOR: Welcome to the US Bureau of Reclamation – an agency created in 1902 with the mandate to irrigate and make productive – or reclaim the arid lands of the American West.

Inspired by early explorer and conservationist John Wesley Powell and championed by President Theodore Roosevelt, Reclamation built dams, reservoirs and canals throughout the 17 western states.

These projects, in addition to irrigation, provided water supplies for cities and industry, hydroelectric power, flood damage reduction, and recreation. Without Reclamation, the West would not exist as we know it today .

Jeff: We have a long and colorful history. We got a lot of amazing things done. – I have a tremendous amount of respect for those people who put in the big dams and watered up this country – just phenomenal work, especially with the instruments they had.

Justin: My grandfather's worked here; my other grandfather has retired here; been in my family for years…

NARRATOR: Today, we are the nation's largest wholesale water supplier, operating 348 reservoirs, delivering 10 trillion gallons of water, to more than 31 million people each year. Reclamation provides irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland which produce 60% of the nation's vegetables and 25% of its fruit and nut crop.

We're also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States , annually producing enough electricity to serve 6 million homes. And Reclamation, along with its partners, manages 289 recreation sites totaling over 90 million visits each year.

Joe: Its a special feeling being here, being a part of making the power that runs our country.

Katie: Once I found out about Reclamation and the types of projects that I could be involved with in Reclamation, then I was really excited about the work

Melissa: What we do touches the lives of everyone, every day - we deal with water!

NARRATOR : The mission of the Bureau of Reclamation is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.

Cat: The mission Reclamation is pretty much to deliver water in a safe and environmental manner.

Christine: We transport water, we measure water, and we get it to places that need it.

Henry: The way I look at Reclamation as a whole is we're providing life.

June: Reclamation: We manage water in the west.

NARRATOR: The needs of the West have changed dramatically since the early 1900s, when flood protection and providing irrigation to the arid west was Reclamation's goal. Our basic mission has evolved to meet the needs of today - working along side state, local, and tribal partners with an emphasis on conservation and the environment. The focus now is on managing and balancing complex water resource needs.

Reclamation meets this goal by operating with a relatively small, but effective workforce

Reclamation's Commissioner manages the agency from Washington , D.C. The Commissioner and staff serve as our link to the political and policy challenges coming from our nation's capital.

Our Denver office serves as a vital technical and administrative resource center

Lastly, more than 5000 employees are strategically placed across the 17 Western states, and in Washington , D.C. We're represented by five regions – Great Plains Region headquartered in Billings Montana – the Lower Colorado Region headquartered in Boulder City Nevada – the Mid Pacific Region in Sacramento California – the Pacific Northwest in Boise Idaho – and the Upper Colorado Region in Salt Lake City Utah .

Each region has area offices, often divided along watershed lines and field offices are located at specific dam sites or to support water resource programs.

Reclamation employs a wide diversity of workers, we perform a variety of critical roles as water managers, such as water quality and measurement, hydropower research and production, endangered species management, habitat enhancement, and safety of dams engineering.

We also manage reservoir areas used for recreation and provide access to those facilities for people with disabilities.

We inventory and monitor large tracts of lands near Reclamation canals using Geospatial Information Systems or GIS and manage these resources' through computer analyses

And behind this talented team you'll find administrative support employees providing services such as fleet management, purchasing power for Reclamation operations, and records management for volumes of government data, keeping the agency up to date.

These support employees also provide expertise in employee benefits and a multitude of clerical duties performed by hundreds of dedicated staff.

Paul: Reclamation, you get a chance to really work on a balance of objectives. Try to work with a lot of different agencies; work the middle ground.

Luke: In a lot of ways we're kind like a catalyst for change within a community.

Connie: There's so much opportunity here and there's so many different types of projects that you can get involved in.

Scott: We have a stewardship; we have a resource that we are managing and protecting.

Amie: Basically, in a nutshell, I'm the face of Reclamation.

NARRATOR : Reclamation's focus on public service means that it's not just a job – we're making a difference, leaving the world a little better than we found it. We understand the value of the critical resources we maintain, and work tirelessly to earn the trust of those who rely on us.

It means we're fiscally responsible, using programs like Value Engineering to keep costs down.

It means we protect the environment, not just damming the West, but looking at the global impact the program carries, such as effects on endangered species.

It means we protect resources in an environmentally sound way, for example – constructing fish screens to protect resident fish, restoring fish habitat, building wetland projects, adjusting water flows to aid salmon migration, eliminating or reducing salinity, conducting environmental impact studies on dam operations all over the West, and controlling water releases to adjust water temperature downstream.

It means collaborating with agricultural communities, and addressing future needs through water conservation programs. Reclamation provides funding and technical support to measure and conserve critical water supplies all across the West. Irrigators, cities and towns, and the hydropower industry benefit from pro-active, innovative solutions that help prevent water scarcity and conflicts.

It means high tech management throughout the West, using satellite-based stations such as AgriMet and Hydromet to continually monitor weather and water data.

It means security of our facilities and ongoing evaluations of all dams for safety, updating with modifications as needed.

It means staying on the cutting edge of research, partnering with universities and corporations to find solutions for water needs.

And it means partnering with state and local government, tribes, and other customers to resolve complex issues and competing interests, promoting conservation and wise use of water resources.

Henry: I'm working for the government and the agency but I'm working for the people … I'm working for the people and this is what my jobs is.

Giovanni: Working for the government… its the bigger picture, its the purpose.

Tyler : It's a necessity to have somebody planning and building projects for the public interest.

Cat: I think I'm returning something to what this county has given me.

NARRATOR: Reclamation contributes to the federal treasury by generating hydropower, oil and gas revenues. Irrigation districts and water users repay their share of canal and dam construction costs.

We promote an atmosphere of openness in the workplace. You'll be included in the decision-making process - your input is requested and considered. We're all on the same team and we pull together.

Hillary: They really want to know, what's your insight on this? What are your opinions? How do you think we should do this?

Bill: I just literally got out of a meeting a couple minutes ago with world-renowned hydraulic engineers who were actually listening to what I had to say.

Mike: You can communicate your goals to them and they'll trust you to know your area of expertise.

Julianna: When you have a lot of people that are willing to help you, then that's really exciting.

NARRATOR: The part you have to play is critical. The fact is, people couldn't enjoy the lifestyles we've come to know in the West without the Bureau of Reclamation. There just wouldn't be enough water - and water is the challenge facing our future, as well. Because of Reclamation, we have irrigated agriculture, abundant food supply, renewable hydropower, and a booming population.

As we change and adapt to the needs of the next century, we look forward to serving beside you.


For Questions and Comments
Last revised: August 28, 2009