Reclamation Responds to Hurricane Katrina Disaster

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, 303-445-3615
Trudy Harlow, 202-513-0574

For Release: September 01, 2005

The Bureau of Reclamation is coordinating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to respond and provide assistance in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area.

"Our hearts go out to those affected by this disaster," said Reclamation Commissioner John Keys. "We are eager to help our fellow citizens and those already responding to their needs in any way we can. Our employees have a long tradition of excellence in civil engineering and technical expertise, and many have already volunteered to go."

Reclamation engineers with expertise in civil engineering and construction developed an options paper for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help with the levee breach repair in New Orleans. Reclamation's engineers continue to study the situation and look for additional solutions.

Also, Reclamation is prepared to send a water purification unit that can provide drinking water for people in the disaster area. The Expeditionary Unit for Water Purification was a joint project with the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Army and is one of two units available for deployment to the area.

This portable unit was designed to purify contaminated and salty waters to better than EPA drinking water standards. Depending on the quality of the water, the Unit can produce 100,000 to 200,000 gallons per day. The information on this unit has been made available to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who notified the National Resource Coordination Center, the office coordinating the response to this disaster.

In addition, a number of Reclamation employees are preparing to deploy to the disaster area. These highly skilled employees will provide quality assurance and quality control for debris removal, housing, and temporary roofing missions. The deployment will probably occur within seven to fourteen days and last at least 30 days, with additional deployments in the future.

Reclamation also is assisting the National Resources Coordination Center with natural and cultural resources and historic properties. This is in support of the U.S. Department of the Interior and its mission to co-manage this part of the National Response Plan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A pending mission for Reclamation is to provide community relations managers and public affairs personnel along with other Interior bureaus and offices. Reclamation is waiting for more information on how many employees will be needed, their duties, and where they will be deployed.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.