April 17, 2020

AAWRE is proud to announce that Dr. James H. Duke, Jr., Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE is a recipient of the AAWRE 2020 Outstanding Practitioner in Water Resources Engineering Award for his significant contributions in his distinguished engineering career as a water resources consultant and practitioner. Specifically, Dr. Duke is recognized for his outstanding contributions in the areas of surface and groundwater hydrology, water quality engineering, systems analysis, and numerical modeling approaches applied in numerous water resources disciplines. Dr. Duke is one of two recipients of the award this year.

The AAWRE Outstanding Practitioner in Water Resources Engineering Award was established in 2014 to recognize Diplomate, Water Resources Engineers (D.WRE), who has demonstrated a significant contribution to the engineering practice based on either a single outstanding achievement or through a body of work related to the practice of environmental or water resources engineering.

Early in his five decade career, Dr. Duke served as a public servant for the International Boundary and Water Commission and the U.S. Geological Survey. Throughout his career, Dr. Duke developed expertise in numerous water resource areas including surface and groundwater hydrology, riverine and estuarine hydrodynamics, water quality and water resource systems analysis, reservoir operations and tropical cyclone surge studies. Jim developed a deterministic method for the simulation of irrigation water delivery systems for optimizing water delivery strategies for his Ph.D. dissertation.

Dr. Duke served on a team to convert the QUAL-1 model of the Texas Water Development Board into the QUAL-11 model which was subsequently adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency designated at QUAL-2e. He extended the DOSAG-1 model of the Texas Water Development Board which simulates bio-chemical oxygen, dissolved oxygen and nutrients in steams systems for developing decision making alternatives. One of his most significant accomplishments was expanding the HEC-SQ model to simulate releases from a single reservoir to meet downstream temperature, nutrients and selected water quality constituent targets.

Jim has been a leader in the use and application of numerical modelingfor solving both routine as well as extraordinarily complex engineering problems. His modeling interests and capabilities have been a mainstay characteristic of his problem solving approach throughout his career. Dr. Duke has authored nearly 100 articles, papers and reports; made numerous presentations as a guest/invited speaker; and has a fingerprint on dozens of numeric models used throughout the water resources profession. He has been an active member of ASCE since early in his career, is an enthusiastic supporter of practitioner continuing education, and serves as a consummate role model for the engineering profession. Jim continues to work as an engineering consultant in Austin, Texas.

Jim reflected:

"I wish to thank the Academy for selecting me for the AAWRE 2020 Outstanding Practitioner in Water Resource Engineering award, recognizing my contributions.  When I left a small town in south Texas on the Mexican border 60 years ago, in no way did I anticipate that I would be selected for a national award.

My career has included employment in government, academia and consulting engineering at various stages.  In 1976, to the horror of my wife, I left the employment of other organizations and became self-employed as a consulting engineer (and sometimes unemployed and retired).  But I was self-employed for most of the years since 1976, working out of my house, employing no other engineers and providing services on over 300 projects in the United States and other countries.  In my eyes, being able to do work as a sole practitioner for so long was my biggest accomplishment.  I would not have been able to do so without the assistance of many professional friends and clients who thought I knew something. Much of my work came on the basis of recommendations of friends or on my reputation with a client for work done previously.

The first half of my professional career was spent developing computer models for water resource systems and applying those models to river, reservoir, estuarine and ocean systems.  My most notable accomplishment along this line was expanding the HEC-5Q model from a two-reservoir, one constituent model to the multiple reservoir model that it is today with the ability to simulate multiple water quality constituents.  

The latter half was spent using my engineering and modeling knowledge (including models developed by others) to help people solve problems.  I consider my best accomplishment during this period to be management of the planning for a 100-mile long, 54-inch diameter pipeline, with a 40 MGD reverse osmosis treatment plant, to carry drinking water across west Texas.  I selected consultants and oversaw studies for the pipeline preliminary design, the reverse osmosis plant conceptual design, hydrogeological studies, environmental studies, power grid modification studies, and gathering system design studies.  The project did not come to fruition because of local political issues.

Many of my projects involved work in both the political and legal systems.  When working in either of these systems I was careful to represent the science and engineering of the issue at hand, rather than the non-scientific position of one side or the other.  And, yes, as you might suspect, I lost some potential clients because of my loyalty to science and engineering.

I personally think that there are many consulting engineers in the water resources field that deserve this recognition, perhaps more than I.  I humbly accept it and I wish to thank the Academy for this honor."

>To send a congratulatory note to Jim