ASCE has honored Juan B. Valdes, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, with the 2024 Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering Award for advancing the field of hydrology and for his seminal contributions to the science and engineering dimensions of arid land hydrology.

Valdes has contributed significantly to the science and engineering aspects of arid land hydrology. He was the director of the nation’s largest arid land hydrology center, Sustainability of Semi-arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA), at the University of Arizona, funded the Nation Science Foundation. SAHRA bought together 19 institutions of higher education, government, NGOs, and the Mexican Institute of Water Research. The project contributes to the understanding of vegetation dynamics in arid and semi-arid regions and the costs and benefits of riparian vegetation conservation. Valdes also founded and directed the partnership between UA and the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management, which resulted in several significant initiatives, including a pilot project that focused on developing advanced streamflow forecasting application in Africa. 

He has published 117 peer-reviewed journal articles and accrued over 7,800 citations. Notably, his research paper on the geomorphic structure of hydrologic response has over 1,475 citations, and other research on a nonlinear model for drought forecasting as well as global warming and hydrological cycles have also received over 500 citations. 

Valdes, aside from ASCE, has been honored with a fellowship from the America Geophysical Union. He has advised and mentored over 50 students who are currently holding prominent positions in various academic institutions and engineering companies. He has served as the department head for the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at UA. He obtained his doctoral degree in water resources engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.

The Arid Land Hydraulic Engineering Award is given in recognition of original contributions in hydraulics; hydrology including climatology, planning, irrigation and drainage; hydroelectric power development; or navigation specially applicable to arid or semi-arid climates, or contributions to the understanding and development of new technology in river basins.