Buras, Nathan

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Nathan Buras


Nathan Buras 1922 (Israel) - 2012 (Tucson, AZ)


Born in 1921, Nathan Buras was trained to be a farmer in an agricultural high school in Israel. He obtained a commission with the British Army and, during World War II, drew maps for his Majesty's Royal Engineers in Egypt, Syria, North Africa, and Tuscany. In 1949, Buras received a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of California-Berkeley, where he had been mentored by the celebrated soil conservation expert and enthusiast, Walter Clay Lowdermilk. Back in the mid-1930s, Lowdermilk envisioned what is now the Israeli National Water Plan. In the 1950s, Lowdermilk was invited to head the Faculty of Agriculture at the Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa. Buras became one of Lowdermilk's first M.A. students.

In 1957, Buras completed his Ph.D. in dynamic programming of water resources systems under Warren Hall at the University of California-Los Angeles. Later, Hall became Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior for Water Resources.

Upon his return to Israel, Buras was appointed lecturer and later Dean of Faculty of Agricultural Engineering at the Walter Clay Lowdermilk Faculty of Agriculture in the Technion. There he helped optimize the Israel Water Plan and the Plan Nacional Hydraulico of Mexico, work he presented personally, in Spanish, to the President of Mexico.

From 1976 to 1981, he worked with George Dantzig, the inventor of linear programming and operations research, at Stanford University. His research included water plans for India and seminal work for the Electrical Power Research Institute in Palo Alto.

Buras came to the University of Arizona's Department of Hydrology and Water Resources in 1981 and served as Department Head for ten years until 1991 when he returned to full-time teaching and research. During his tenure at the University, he was Visiting Professor at a number of universities in the U.S. and abroad and participated in and contributed to numerous national and international symposia and conferences. He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and was a member of several national and international scientific and professional societies.

Professor Buras resided at his home in Tucson, Arizona, until his passing on February 28, 2012, at age 90. He will be remembered as a scholar and a gentleman.

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

Buras' major scientific and professional interest was water resources systems, their design and operation, focusing on the application of systems analysis and mathematical programming methods, and his expertise in regional development of water was sought by the World Bank and various international and governmental agencies. He was author of more than 70 papers, articles, and reports, and his vast experience is partly summarized in a book on the "Scientific Allocation of Water Resources" published in 1972 by Elsevier.

Reference Material[edit]

Obituary of Nathan Buras

Major Publications[edit]


Buras, N., 1972. Scientific allocation of water resources; water resources development and utilization a rational approach. In Scientific allocation of water resources; water resources development and utilization a rational approach. American Elsevier.

Burns, N, (Ed), 2013, Reflections on Hydrology: Science and Practice] Published version of Kisiel Lectures, Wiley [1]


Buras, Nathan. 1963, "Conjunctive operation of dams and aquifers." Journal of the Hydraulics Division 89(6): 111-131.

Nathan Buras, 1965, A Three-Dimensional Optimization Problem in Water-Resources Engineering, OR (Operations Research Quarterly), 16(4): 419-428

Hall, W.A. and Buras, N., 1961. The dynamic programming approach to water‐resources development. Journal of Geophysical Research, 66(2), pp.517-520.

Hall, W.A. and Buras, N., 1961. Optimum irrigated practice under conditions of deficient water supply.

Zaslavsky, Dan, and Nathan Buras. "Crop yield response to nonuniform application of irrigation water." Transactions of the ASAE 10, no. 2 (1967): 196-0198.

Buras, N. and Schweig, Z.E., 1969. Aqueduct route optimization by dynamic programming. Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 95(5), pp.1615-1632.

Buras, N., Nir, D. and Alperovits, E., 1973. Planning and updating farm irrigation schedules. Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 99(1), pp.43-51.

Buras, N, 1985, AN APPLICATION OF MATHEMATICAL PROGRAMMING IN PLANNING SURFACE WATER STORAGE, JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 21(6): 1013–1020

Peng, C.S. and Buras, N., 2000. Dynamic operation of a surface water resources system. Water resources research, 36(9), pp.2701-2709.

Peng, C.S. and Buras, N., 2000. Practical estimation of inflows into multireservoir system. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 126(5), pp.331-334.