Va. Tech Environmental Professor Influential in D.C. Area Dies

Thomas J. Grizzard Jr., professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and director of its Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory for 40 years, has died at 70.

His expertise in the urban water cycle and four decades of work at the laboratory made Grizzard, Ph.D., M.ASCE, so influential, he would be known as “the protector of the Occoquan.” He also served Virginia Tech as director of civil and environmental engineering graduate programs in the Washington, D.C., area.

“The magnitude of Tom’s impact across the board would be hard to overstate,” said Steve McKnight, vice president of the university’s Washington, D.C., area operations. “He was a pioneer in safe reclaimed drinking water right here in the D.C. area and worldwide. He brought Virginia Tech’s civil engineering graduate programs to northern Virginia; helped design and open our Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church; and brought his energy, insight, devotion, enthusiasm, and infectious laugh to everything he did.”

After working a variety of assignments with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Grizzard became proficient in sanitary engineering, earning a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in 1977. Through his teaching, research, and outreach, Grizzard helped to make the national capital region more sustainable, including restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

In recent years, Grizzard served on the Virginia Commonwealth’s licensing board for water and wastewater plant operators and was a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program.


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