Longtime Colorado State University Engineering Professor Honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers

Note to Reporters: A photo of Jose D. Salas can be found with the news release at http://www.news.colostate.edu/.

Jose D. “Pepe” Salas, a longtime Colorado State University civil and environmental engineering professor, has received the 2010 Ven Te Chow Award – the highest honor awarded to a hydrologic engineer by the American Society of Civil Engineers and its specialty organization, the Environmental and Water Resources Institute.

Established in 1995, the ASCE-EWRI National Career Achievement Society Award recognizes individuals whose lifetime achievements in the field of hydrologic engineering “have been distinguished by exceptional achievement and significant contributions in research, education, or practice.”

Salas was honored for his extensive contributions in the field of stochastic hydrology and time series analysis, physically-based hydrology, and drought characterization, and for his contributions to education through books and publications.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Salas,” said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering. “The award illustrates the ongoing commitment of our faculty to solve problems that affect the environment and society.”

As part of the award, Salas delivered the 2010 Ven Te Chow Award lecture during the American Society of Civil Engineers World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in May in Providence, R.I. Salas spoke about “Stochastic Hydrology in the Framework of Climate Variability and Change.”

Highlights of Salas’ work:

• Over almost four decades, Salas and his team have made significant contributions in diverse areas such as time series analysis, multivariate models, aggregation and disaggregation of hydrologic data, and on the use of non-parametric methods in hydrology. The techniques have been used to better understand and model the Colorado River, the Nile and Great Lakes Basins.

• In his early work in the 1970s, Salas suggested that sudden shifts observed in some hydrological processes may be forced by major oceanic atmospheric processes such as sea surface temperature variations.

• Salas and his collaborators have conducted extensive studies in characterizing low flows and droughts and developed the concept of return period and risk in connection to droughts. Likewise, he developed nonparametric techniques for streamflow simulation and spatial analysis of hydrologic data, which have been applied to a variety of hydrologic processes including infiltration, precipitation, groundwater contamination, regional drought identification and crop yield.

• He has devised methods for modeling and simulating nonlinear and intermittent hydrological processes in semiarid and arid basins such as Colorado, California and Arizona.

A native of Perú, Salas received his Bachelor of Science and civil engineering degrees from the National University of Engineering in Lima. He came to the United States with a Ford Foundation Scholarship and obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering from Colorado State University under the guidance of V. Yevjevich, a CSU professor and the first recipient of the Ven Te Chow Award. Salas has been a member of the CSU College of Engineering faculty since 1976.

In 2009, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar honored Salas and his partners at three other universities with the U.S. Department of the Interior Partners in Conservation Award for helping developing new operational guidelines for the Colorado River. Salas and his team developed alternative streamflow scenarios that may occur in the Colorado River system in the future. The Colorado River Interim Guidelines has been praised as the most important agreement among the seven basin states since the original 1922 compact. States signing the agreement were Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.