Nomination of Camille C. Touton to be Commissioner of Reclamation
Camille Calimlim Touton
Nominee for the Position of
Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation,
Department of the Interior
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
September 21, 2021
Good Morning Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso, and Members of the Committee.
Thank you also to Senator Cortez-Masto for your kind introduction, and for your leadership and service to the Silver State and the United States.
My name is Camille Calimlim Touton. I am joined here today by my husband, Matthew, my mother, Marlene, and virtually by our daughters, parents, siblings, and family across the country and the world. It is by the grace of God and with the love, support and guidance of my family and friends, that I am here as the Biden-Harris Administration’s nominee to be the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. It is an honor to be here with you today.
From the start, my grandparents instilled in me the values of family, of service to our community, and service to our country. My grandmother Eddie was a homemaker with a high school education. Her goal was to have all eight of her children graduate college and she succeeded.
My grandmother Juanita was an elementary teacher, and in her second act, was the elected Capitana of the Barangay Tebeng, Philippines. My grandfathers served in the military; Camilo enlisted in the United States Navy after World War II, and Alfonso served as a Scout during the War; their sacrifice and values are with me here today.
The United States Air Force brought us to my adopted hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. It was there that I would eventually meet the love of my life and find my life’s work in water. I recognized my strengths were to use my engineering background to understand technical information and communicate its impact to policy makers. This recognition and passion to serve brought me here, to Washington, D.C.
Over the last 15 years, I have had the great privilege to be a part of the major legislation impacting Reclamation. This included my time as Professional Staff for the House Natural Resources Committee, where I worked to support the enactment of the Claims Resolution Act, a law that settled the water rights of seven Indian Tribes and Pueblos across the West.
I am also fortunate to have called this Committee my professional home. I helped support the enactment of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, Assistance to the Klamath Project, Title Transfer, and other Reclamation provisions included in the Dingell Act.
Last Congress, I worked for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee supporting the enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 – the authorizing legislation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The very same laws I helped to support I have also implemented and executed. I served in the Obama Administration as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, overseeing the United States Geological Survey. During that time I led the Department of the Interior’s finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Salton Sea – as well as the completion of the Glen Canyon Dam Long Term Experimental and Management Plan.
Since I joined the Biden-Harris Administration in January, Reclamation has completed four title transfers, funded the Klamath Drought Relief Act, recommended water recycling, desalination, and storage projects under the WIIN Act to Congress, and funded activities under the Drought Continency Plan.
Each of these successes requires an understanding of complex issues, the ability to work across the aisle and collaborate with a diverse set of stakeholders. It requires the ability – and, very importantly, the desire – to build trust and understanding with all our partners, to clearly communicate intent and manage expectations, and ultimately to produce results. It is these skills and commitment that I bring to the position.
I also recognize that the constellation of challenges ahead of this Agency are unlike any beforeand managing water in the West is complex, even in the best of times. The unprecedented drought has made the task even more challenging, as major reservoirs are at their lowest levels since filling, and the projections for relief in the face of climate change are not encouraging. I am honored to work alongside our stakeholders and the 5,400 public servants who make up Reclamation, carrying out our mission in one of the toughest water years, and during a global pandemic.
The drought has very real implications on people and the environment. Farmers – whose life’s work is to put food on America’s table, worry about the ability to put food on their own. Tribal communities who fear for the loss of species of cultural significance. Communities who see the low reservoirs and worry about their water supply. Ecosystems and species that are stressed to the brink.
If confirmed, I bring to this position a proven track record of collaboration and communication. I face these challenges with humility and a commitment to work with you, our stakeholders, and the American public in solving these challenges.
Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today.