Washington Aqueduct hires new COO, plans for new GM, following retirement of Tom Jacobus after 26 years of service

Published Sept. 30, 2020

Tom Jacobus, Washington Aqueduct general manager, stands outside of the Dalecarlia Reservoir, located in the District of Columbia, Aug. 21, 2020. Jacobus will retire from federal service on Sept. 30, 2020, following a 26 year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (U.S. Army photo by David Gray)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has announced that Mr. Rudolph (Rudy) Chow has been named the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Washington Aqueduct and will serve as interim general manager (GM) until a permanent replacement has been hired to succeed Mr. Thomas Jacobus who retired Sept. 30, 2020, after serving in the role for more than 25 years.

“During this period of transition at the Washington Aqueduct, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remains committed to ensuring high standards for drinking water in our nation’s capital that Mr. Jacobus championed for more than two decades,” said Col. John Litz, Baltimore District commander. “The Washington Aqueduct has thrived under Tom’s leadership. He leaves behind an incredible team of experts who are committed to providing safe, sustainable, cost-effective water. Tom is an incredible leader who served his country in uniform and as an Army Civilian for 53 years. I am proud of Tom and his significant accomplishments, and I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Of note, Jacobus and his team developed a series of pilot alternative water treatment processes including the integration of UV disinfection and ozonation to defeat pathogens and also researched and studied backup water sources should the Potomac River become unusable or contaminated.  

Chow comes to the aqueduct from the City of Redlands in California in which he served as the director of the Municipal Utilities and Engineering Department. He was previously appointed as the director of Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works and also spent more than 20 years with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, serving Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. In 2019, he was named “Top Ten Public Works Leaders” by the American Public Works Association, among several other awards.

“We are fortunate to have Mr. Chow lead this transition as we work toward filling the GM position,” said Litz. “Under his leadership, much needed upgrades were made to Baltimore’s aging infrastructure. He also established a small business program and created a water industry mentorship program to help underemployed or unemployed city residents enter the water utility field.”

The GM position is expected to be filled within the next 3 - 5 months.

The Washington Aqueduct provides 135 million gallons of safe, reliable and cost-effective drinking water per day to more than one million people in D.C. and Northern Virginia. All funding for operations, maintenance, studies and capital improvements for Washington Aqueduct comes from revenue generated by selling drinking water to its three wholesale customers: DC Water, Arlington County and Fairfax Water.

The Washington Aqueduct is the U.S. Army’s only public utility. It has been owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more than 160 years. Capt. Montgomery C. Meigs, an Army Corps officer and an 1832 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was personally directed by Congress to design and build an aqueduct to provide Potomac River water to the nation’s capital. Service began Jan. 3, 1859, supplying fresh water via gravity from Great Falls for domestic and commercial use, as well as for firefighting.

Sarah Lazo
Cynthia Mitchell

Release no. 20-025