BuRec downsizes

  Seven years after the Bureau of Reclamation promised to transform itself from dam builder to environmental water manager, the agency announced its first self-imposed overhaul. Under an order signed by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, the Bureau will move its headquarters from Denver back to Washington, D.C., streamline its management structure and cut 550 jobs, mostly from its Denver-based staff of construction engineers. Commissioner of Reclamation Dan Beard says the changes will save $40 million from its annual staffing budget of $740 million, and help the agency become a more efficient manager. Reclamation is the nation's largest water manager and sixth largest utility. Beard also says the agency will phase out federally funded water supply projects and halt dam construction projects unless they are "responsible." Beard expects to proceed, however, with construction of the controversial $600 million Animas-La Plata water project in southwestern Colorado.