February 26, 2019

AAWRE proudly announce Ralph Wurbs, Ph.D., P.E., Hon.D.WRE, F.ASCE as the first recipient of the AAWRE Inaugural Outstanding Research and Innovation Award, for his significant contributions in water resources planning through research and development of the Water Rights Analysis Package modeling system (WRAP) and its use in the Texas Water Availability Modeling System. The Outstanding Research and Innovation Award was established in 2018 to recognize excellence in significant academic contributions in one or more of the following: impact of the research on society and academe in the disciplines of water resources engineering; national and international recognition; and scholarships.

Dr. Wurbs is currently the Arthur McFarland Professor in the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Division of Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. Dr. Wurbs was elected to AAWRE Honorary Diplomate status in 2014, AAWRE's highest honor given to an individual. His research interests include water resources systems planning and management, hydraulic engineering and hydrology. Professor Wurbs has focused his career on effective integration of university teaching and research endeavors with endeavors of the practicing water resources engineering profession. He has worked closely with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other federal agencies, international agencies, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), other state agencies, and consulting engineering firms throughout his academic career at Texas A&M University.

One of his major research accomplishments has been creation and continual expansion of the Water Rights Analysis Package (WRAP) modeling system and employing WRAP to explore various research topics. The generalized WRAP modeling system combines flexible detailed simulation modeling capabilities with statistical reliability and frequency analysis methods for assessing river/reservoir system capabilities in meeting water supply, hydroelectric power, environmental flow, flood control, and reservoir storage needs. The WRAP modeling system was developed and has been continually expanded and improved by Dr. Wurbs and his graduate students at TAMU during 1988 through the present, sponsored by the TCEQ and other state and federal agencies. Dr. Wurbs has supported practitioners and researchers in applying the modeling system in various places in the U.S. and other countries. WRAP has greatly contributed to improving water management in Texas through its innovative employment in the statewide Water Availability Modeling (WAM) System.

The WAM System created and maintained by the TCEQ and its partner agencies and contractors (university researchers and consulting firms) consists of the generalized WRAP developed at TAMU and WRAP input datasets for all the river basins of Texas. Evolving components of WRAP have been applied with theWAM datasets by the TCEQ, TWDB, other water management agencies, engineering consulting firms, and university researchers in regional and statewide planning, administration of the water rights permit system, operational planning studies, environmental flow studies, USACE Section 404 permit applications, and other water management activities in Texas since 2002. Additions implemented in the July 2018 version ofWRAP include expanded capabilities for integrating environmental flow standards in comprehensive water management and improved drought management.

The twenty river basin WRAP models in the WAM System simulate the operation of 3,400 reservoirs and other constructed facilities in accordance with treaties between the U.S. and Mexico, five interstate compacts, two water right permit systems with 6,200 active permits, and other institutional arrangements. The WRAP/WAM system is employed in the submission, evaluation, and TCEQ approval of water right permits applications. TWDB and 16 regional planning groups administer a legislatively mandated five-year-cycle continuous statewide planning process that also relies upon the WRAP/WAM  system. The WRAP Committee of the Texas Water Conservation Association advises TCEQ and Wurbs on modeling issues and needs.

Professor Wurbs remarked on his latest recognition:

"I am greatly honored to receive the inaugural AAWRE Outstanding Research and Innovation Award. Being recognized and supported by the distinguished water resources engineers participating in the AAWRE awards process makes this award especially meaningful to me.

My research team at Texas A&M University has been privileged to work with a community of outstanding professionals employed by government agencies, engineering firms, and universities to improve water management in Texas through advances in both modeling and analysis methods and institutional partnerships. Innovative expanded water resources planning, allocation, and management capabilities developed by the water resources engineering community in Texas are relevant throughout the world."


>To send a congratulatory note to Ralph