National Academy of Engineering Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10
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Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10

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             HARVEY O.BANKS                                             9
                             HARVEY O.BANKS
                                BY WILLIAM J.CARROLL
                HARVEY OREN BANKS, a world-renowned civil engineer, noted for his
            work in water resources, died of leukemia at this home in Austin, Texas, on
            September 21, 1996. He worked as a state engineer and then director of the
            California Department of Water Resources from 1950 to 1960, and as an
            engineering consultant on worldwide water-related problems.
                Harvey was born on March 29, 1910, in Chaumont, New York. His boyhood
            was spent on family farms in upstate New York. He received a B.S. degree in
            civil engineering (magna cum laude) from Syracuse University in 1930. Upon
            graduating from Syracuse, he went to Stanford University and spent three years
            (1930 to 1933) as an instructor and a graduate student in civil engineering and
            there received an M.S. degree in hydraulic and sanitary engineering in 1935. From
            1934 to 1935 he worked for the city of Palo Alto, California, as a sanitary
            engineer and then served as a hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Soil Conservation
            Service from 1935 to 1938.
                In 1938 Harvey started a long and distinguished career with the State of
            California Water Resources Division (later a department), interspersed with a few
            other assignments. From 1938 to 1942 he served as an assistant and then
            associate engineer with the division and then served in the military during World
            War II (1942 to 1945), serving in the Corps of Engineers. His overseas
             HARVEY O.BANKS                                            10
             service was on Quadacanal. Upon leaving military service in 1945 as a major, he
             became a partner with Harold Conkling, Consulting Engineer, in Los Angeles. In
             1950 he resumed his career with the state of California, serving as a supervisor
             and principal hydraulic engineer, then as assistant state engineer, and finally in
             1955 and 1956 as state engineer. At this time, the new state of California
             Department of Water Resources was formed and Harvey became its first director.
             It was during this period that Harvey’s visionary and creative talents were put to
            use in helping to formulate legislation and the diverse infrastructure that
            constitutes the California State Water Project. This gigantic system of dams,
            reservoirs, pumping stations, canals, and pipelines that transport water from
            northern California to the central and southern sections of California is one of the
            world’s exemplary water supply and transportation systems, and a great part of its
            success can be attributed to Harvey’s early leadership in its development.
                In 1961 Harvey joined the consulting firm of Leeds, Hill, and Jewett, Inc.,
            serving as president and chairman of the board until 1969, at which time he
            formed his own firm. In 1977 he merged his firm with the international
            engineering firm Camp Dresser and McKee, where he served as president of their
            Water Resources Division. In 1982 he retired from Camp Dresser and McKee,
            and again became an individual consulting engineer, and practiced as such for the
            remainder of his career.
                In addition to his service to the state of California in the finalizing of the
            California Water Plan, Harvey served a wide array of clients, both nationally and
            internationally while in private practice. One of his major projects was for the
            Texas Water Development Board on formulating and implementing a long-range
            water plan for Texas. Another was serving as project director on the 6-State High
            Plains-Ogallala Aquifer Regional Resources Study (1978 to 1982) for the
            Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. There
            were many other projects and programs that he worked on throughout the world,
            including water resource feasibility studies and multipurpose water basin
            developments in such countries as Turkey, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Costa Rica,
            and Iran. Harvey also
             HARVEY O.BANKS                                            11
             chaired state and federal panels throughout the United States and served on
             international commissions and committees on behalf of organizations such as the
             World Bank, the United Nations, and the U.S. Agency for International
             Development. He served as an expert witness before federal and state courts in a
             variety of cases involving various aspects of water resource control and
                While accomplishing all of the above, Harvey published extensively on
             water resources management and water law. His papers were published in the
             journals and proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the
             American Water Works Association, the Water Pollution Control Federation, the
             Institution of Civil Engineers of the United Kingdom, and the California Law
                Harvey was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1973. He
             also was an honorary member of both the American Society of Civil Engineers
             and the American Water Works Association, a diplomat of the American
             Academy of Environmental Engineers, a life member of the Water Environment
             Federation, a fellow of the American Consulting Engineers Council, and a
             regular member of a number of other organizations.
                He received numerous awards, all recognizing his major contributions to the
             water resource field and to humanity. Examples are the 1976 Julian Hinds Award
             from ASCE for distinguished service in the planning, development, and
             management of water resources; the 1980 Icko Iben Award, American Water
             Resources Association, for promotion of multidisciplinary planning of water
             resources; the Royce J.Tipton Award, ASCE, for contributions to irrigation,
             1973; and the Federal Land Banks 50th Anniversary Medal for outstanding
             contributions to agriculture.
                In recognition of his outstanding work on the California Water Project, the
             first pumping plant on the California Aqueduct was named the Harvey O.Banks
             Delta Pumping Plant.
                Harvey was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary Morgan Banks, and is
             survived by his second wife, Jean Ott Williams, and three sons from his first
             marriage, Robert, Philip, and Kimball.
                Harvey Banks was a leader in the water resource field. His work has greatly
             benefited and improved the quality of life of
             HARVEY O.BANKS                                            12
             many people around the world. For those of us who knew him, he was an
             inspirational icon of civil engineering, and we greatly miss him.
             HARVEY O.BANKS                                                    13
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