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Papers of Marvin E. Jensen

Identifier: WMEJ

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Marvin E. Jensen consists of documents dated 1957 to 2011, with the bulk of the unpublished material falling from 1985 to 2004. This collection primarily documents Jensen's consulting work. Two special projects cover water distribution and usage evaluations along the lower Colorado River; one on the Lower Colorado River Accounting System (LCRAS) and the other on water use by the Imperial Irrigation District (IID). The first series in the collection includes materials used and created by Jensen to review the LCRAS, recommend changes, and develop crop, water surface, and vegetative coefficients for the system and for the estimation of the Colorado water consumption from Hoover Dam to Morelos Dam on the U.S.-Mexico border. The second series includes materials used and created by Jensen for his evaluation of Colorado River water usage by the IID for the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The third series consist of materials Jensen created or gathered while consulting for other private and governmental agencies in the U.S. West between 1991 and 2011. The fourth series contains publications and writings that represent the first thirty years of Jensen's career. Documents include memoranda, correspondence, maps, data, photographs and negatives, floppy disks, handwritten notes, references, drafts, and final reports.


  • Creation: 1957-2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1985-2004


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, the collection is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


A significant contributor to the development of improved methods in estimating irrigation water requirements, Marvin E. Jensen had a diverse career in civil engineering. He worked as a consultant and a university employee and served the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Not only was he instrumental in analyzing water flow and apportionment for agriculture projects, but Jensen developed real-time analysis of water requirements for irrigation, which continues to be used in irrigation water scheduling throughout the United States.

Born in Minnesota in 1926, Jensen attended North Dakota State University where he specialized in soil and water and received his bachelor's degree in 1951. He received his master's degree from the same institution in Agriculture Engineering in 1952. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University in 1965.

Focusing on water management in western states, he served the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 1955 to 1987. During his time with the USDA, Jensen worked as Agricultural Engineer at Bushland, Texas, and the head of the Irrigation, Drainage and Water Storage Facilities Section in Fort Collins, Colorado. He also served as Investigations Leader in Water Management for the Soil and Water Conservation Research Division in Fort Collins and Kimberly, Idaho. From 1968 to 1978, Jensen was Director of the Snake River Conservation Research Center in Kimberly, Idaho. From 1979 to 1987, Jensen planned, implemented, and reviewed water management research throughout the United States as the National Program Leader for Water Management Research with the USDA. Following his work with the USDA, Jensen served as Director of the Colorado Institute for Irrigation Management at Colorado State University. Additionally, from 1989 to 2004, Jensen served as a consultant to the Wyoming Attorney General.

Jensen's career included international work in Sri Lanka, Egypt, Romania, China, Pakistan and Bulgaria. He served as a long-term member of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Irrigation and Drainage Committee and as World President of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage from 1984 to 1987. For the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Jensen was the Soil and Water Director from 1980 to 1982 and the Technical Vice President from 1983 to 1986. He was also a member of the American Society of Agronomy starting in 1965.

Throughout his career, Jensen received numerous awards for his service and contributions to science, agriculture, and water resources. He was inducted into the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-USDA Science Hall of Fame in 2000, elected honorary member (now called distinguished member) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1989, and presented with the ASCE's Royce J. Tipton Award in 1982 and the USDA Distinguished Service Award and the Irrigation Association Man of the Year Award in 1983. In 2007, Jensen was awarded the Environment and Water Resources Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Additionally, Jensen served as editor for Design and Operation of Farm Irrigation Systems (1980) and co-editor for the 2nd edition (2007). He also served as co-editor of ASCE Manual 70 Evapotranspiration and Irrigation Water Requirements (1990). Jensen married Doris A. Lundberg in 1947, and they had three children. Jensen passed away in March 2022.


11.25 linear feet (6 record cartons, 5 document boxes)

Language of Materials



A significant contributor to the development of improved methods in estimating irrigation water requirements, Marvin E. Jensen (1926-2022) had a diverse career in civil engineering. This collection documents Jensen's consulting and writings with special emphasis on two consulting projects in which Jensen evaluated water distribution and usage along the lower Colorado River. Materials include data, correspondence, handwritten notes, news clippings, photographs and negatives, drafts, reports, and floppy disks.


Dr. Jensen's detailed inventory lists provided the basis for arrangement.

The collection consists of 4 series in 11 boxes:

Series 1: Lower Colorado River Accounting System, 1964-2004

Series 2: Imperial Irrigation District Water Use Study, 1957-2002

Subseries 2.1: Water Use Assessment of the Imperial Irrigation District, 1993-1997

Subseries 2.2: Assessment of 1987-1996 Water Use by the Imperial Irrigation District Using Water Balance and Cropping Data, 1957-2000

Subseries 2.3: Assessment of 1997-2001 Water Use by the Imperial Irrigation District, 2002

Series 3: Other consulting, 1970-2011

Series 4: Writings, 1960-1990 and undated


The Papers of Marvin E. Jensen was donated to the Water Resources Archive by Marvin E. Jensen in August 2006. Jensen donated additional materials in 2008, 2009, and 2013.

Related Collections

The United States Bureau of Reclamation's web page about Lower Colorado River Water Accounting contains links to yearly LCRAS reports, some of which were written by Jensen.


The Papers of Marvin E. Jensen arrived in ten boxes. Most material was housed in three-ring binders with spine labels and multiple dividers. Other material was housed in folders. Binders and folders were in chronological order or were arranged to be. Materials within folders are in reverse chronological order.

All materials were re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Paper clips and staples were replaced with plastic clips. Self-stick notes were copied and then removed. The copy was placed in front of the original document. Acid-free paper was placed next to documents that have tape. Transparency overheads were interleaved with acid-free paper. Photographs were removed from a photo album and envelopes and placed in archival photograph sleeves and in acid-free folders. Negatives were removed from original envelopes and placed in an archival envelope. Duplicate copies of data charts were removed.

In 2014, three more boxes of consulting work and writings were processed. All materials were re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Metal fasteners were removed, and newspaper clippings and transparencies were interleaved with acid-free paper. Photographs and negatives were relocated to separate, acid-free folders, and negatives were placed in archival envelopes. Floppy disks were also placed in archival envelopes.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated paginationis preceded by an "e."

Guide to the Papers of Marvin E. Jensen
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Angeline J. Allen; revised by Clarissa J. Trapp; revised by Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2022
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA