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US Interior Department chooses new water and science deputy to focus on drought resilience

Arizona Drought
Posted at 3:17 PM, Jul 19, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Interior Department has tapped an official with the federal government’s water management bureau to serve as a deputy assistant secretary for water and science.

The Department announced the appointment of Michael Brain on Wednesday. He replaces Tanya Trujillo, who recently resigned after playing a key role in negotiations over the shrinking Colorado River.

The leadership change comes as the states, cities and farmers that rely on the Colorado River struggle to decide how to reduce their use. In August, the Interior Department will offer its annual analysis on the health of the river and announce if there will be additional cuts in the coming year.

In recent years the federal government has lowered some states’ water allocations and offered billions of dollars to farmers, cities and others to cut back. But key water officials — including Trujillo — didn’t see those efforts as enough to prevent the system from collapsing.

In his new role, Brain will help the Interior Department as it addresses drought resilience and funnels more money toward infrastructure projects.

Brain had served as deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation since March 2022, overseeing media and congressional relations. He previously worked as a congressional staffer focusing on water and environmental issues and helping to develop funding bills related to water policy.

Brain has a law degree in urban planning, land use and environmental law from Saint Louis University and a bachelor's in political science and government from Boston College.