Joseph D. Countryman

Special Recognition Award

Below is the text found on the Special Recognition Award presented to Joseph D. Countryman at the 2011 California Extreme Precipitation Symposium held at the University of California, Davis on June 28, 2011.

Special Recognition Award

Presented To

Joseph D. Countryman

This award is presented by your friends and colleagues to acknowledge your significant contributions over 45 years to managing and adapting to the flooding consequences of extreme precipitation in California.

We acknowledge first your innovation and success introducing new information technology into water management in California. For example, your efforts to enhance data collection, data management, and system simulation for reservoir management at the Sacramento District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, paved the way for subsequent data sharing and advanced decision support systems throughout the Central Valley.

We acknowledge too, your contributions to wise use of science in water management. You consistently recognized and encouraged application of advanced conceptual modeling and innovative statistical analysis methods. In addition, you realized that most of us would rather live with a problem we can't solve than accept a solution we can't understand. You responded by aiding our understanding through careful, yet simple explanations of complex topics. And your "bullshit barometer" has served all of us well, reminding us that we must avoid mathematistry in hydrology, focusing instead on understanding how the real world responds to extreme events.

Also, we acknowledge and applaud your positive attitude and great sense of humor. While we appreciate the seriousness of our efforts to protect lives and property, we also realize that humor fosters trust and leads to strong personal relationships that are key to dealing with unanticipated extremes. Meetings were lightened by your whimsical ties.

Finally, you exemplify what it means to be a professional in your field by seeking to learn more and sharing knowledge and insights through speaking and writing. One example is your support of the Symposium by attending (starting with the first in 1994 on a Saturday), speaking four times, and sponsoring via MBK Engineers.

With great pleasure and enthusiastic appreciation, we present this award.

California Extreme Precipitation Symposium

June 28, 2011

Professional Background

Joe Countryman
Joe Countryman

With a BS in Civil Engineering from California State University, San Jose, and many years experience in hydrology and related fields, I am a retired civil engineer.

Experience Summary


As a Principal with MBK Engineers in Sacramento, California, my practice was in the fields of hydrology, hydraulics, flood control, water supply, and water resources development. Projects I worked on included:

  • Development of improved flood operations plans for Folsom Dam including forecast based operations, and development of modification plans for Folsom Dam to provide improved flood protection for Sacramento.
  • Development of preliminary concepts for improved flood control and water supply operation of New Don Pedro and Friant dams.
  • Led hydrology and hydraulic design efforts for Yuba County Water Agency plans for improved flood protection along the Yuba, Feather, and Bear Rivers.
  • Worked on Coordinate operation plans for Oroville and New Bullards Bar reservoirs.
  • Participated in completion of feasibility, environmental impact (EIR), and design studies for the Natomas Basin, including hydraulic impact analyses.
  • Supervised hydraulic analysis studies of flood capacity and flow dynamics along the San Joaquin, Tuolumne, Sacramento, American, Napa, and Russian Rivers.
  • Developed FEMA flood plain studies for cities of Sacramento, Stockton, Woodland, and Fairfield.
  • Hydraulic studies have included steady, unsteady, 1D, and 2D hydraulic modeling.
  • Provided expert consulting services on numerous flood claim cases in California and Nevada. The flood cases were located in the jurisdictions of Yuba, Sacramento, Lake, Napa, Solano, Merced, Inyo, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties in California, and Las Vegas in Nevada. This work included an analysis of design, construction, and operation of flood control facilities.


With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I had responsibility for:

  • Engineering analysis of flood problems, the design of engineering solutions, and the operation of flood control projects throughout parts of California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.
  • During periods of flooding, organized and directed flood fighting and flood rehabilitation activities.
  • Responsible for flood operation of 17 Corps reservoirs in California and the monitoring of 25 partnership reservoirs in California, Nevada, and Colorado.
  • Management responsibility for the water resources engineering studies for the planning and design of flood control and multiple purpose projects.
  • Hydrology, hydraulic design, flood plain management, and reservoir control sections were major areas of responsibility.

At the Event