Joseph Leon Miller Sr., 73, a water rights specialist with the U.S. Department of the Interior and a former Howard University official, died Sept. 28 at a nursing facility in Albuquerque. He had multiple sclerosis.

Mr. Miller came to Washington in 1971 as a manager in the facilities engineering department of Howard University. In that position, he administered the university's buildings and power plants.

After running a facilities engineering and management firm in Silver Spring in 1977 and 1978, Mr. Miller joined the Environmental Protection Agency as a civil engineer. He transferred to the Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation in September 1978 as a specialist in concrete dams.

He remained with the bureau until 1995, serving in several capacities. He was projects superintendent in Albuquerque from 1981 to 1983, and from 1983 to 1990 he was based in Denver, where he coordinated water policy related to western Indian tribes.

Mr. Miller returned to Washington in 1990 as director of the bureau's Native American Affairs Office, negotiating water rights with tribes and developing programs to manage water resources.

In 1995, he left the Bureau of Reclamation and moved to Albuquerque, where he was president of Miller, Arviso & Associates Inc., a water resources management consulting firm. From 1997 until his death, Mr. Miller was president and chief executive of Desert Shrimp Inc., a firm that marketed agricultural products and electrical power.

Mr. Miller was born in Charleston, S.C., and graduated from South Carolina State University. From 1956 to 1960, he was an engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.

He was a civilian facilities and maintenance manager with the Navy in Hawaii from 1960 to 1966. Working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Gallup, N.M., from 1966 to 1970, Mr. Miller administered facilities throughout Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. From 1970 to 1971, he was an administrator of facilities at the University of California at San Diego.

When he worked in Washington, Mr. Miller lived in Silver Spring, Derwood and Gaithersburg. He was a member of Glenmont United Methodist Church in Silver Spring and later of Mill Creek United Methodist Church in Derwood.

His marriage to Daisy Miller ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Linda Arviso-Miller of Albuquerque; four children from his first marriage, Wayne Miller of Wagner, S.C., Randolph Miller of Emeryville, Calif., Vicky Miller of Fairfax County and Joseph Miller Jr. of Albuquerque; a daughter from his second marriage, Nina Miller-Argent of Montgomery Village; two stepchildren, Raymond Miller of Bellingham, Wash., and Colette Grant of Albuquerque; one brother; one sister; 10 grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

Joseph Leon Miller Sr. had worked at the U.S. Department of the Interior and Howard University.