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Know the West

What is the Bureau of Reclamation?


The Bureau of Reclamation, part of the Interior Department, manages water conservation and delivery, flood control, drought response and rural water projects. It helped Western homesteaders in the early 20th century by providing water to farmers and ranchers through dams, irrigation and reservoirs. Today, it delivers water to one in five farmers in the Western U.S., and is the largest supplier of water in the U.S., servicing 31 million people, and the second-largest producer of hydroelectric power. It manages 475 dams and 338 reservoirs, including 289 recreation sites. In 2016, the Bureau’s budget was $1.1 billion, with about 5,300 employees.