A Memorial to Dr. David Keith Todd

Dr. David Keith Todd, one of the founders of modern groundwater science, passed away the evening of April 23rd, 2006, after a brief but valiant struggle with acute leukemia.
Honoring David K. Todd

A fund in memorial of David Keith Todd has been established at the University of California, Berkeley.

Remembering Dr. Todd

Messages of remembrance intended for inclusion in a memorial guest book on this site may be sent to dkt.memorial@gmail.com .

Dr. Todd was a native of West Lafayette, Indiana, where his father was a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University, a school renowned for engineering. As a child, David was always interested in the physical world: rocks, rivers and lakes, and cloud formations. He began his education in civil engineering at Purdue. However, World War II prompted David to enlist in the Army Air Corps in a new meteorology training program. David served as a weather forecaster providing Air Corps pilots with critical weather briefings, most of the time in Gander, Newfoundland and Goose Bay, Labrador. In Labrador he met Dr. Carl G. Rossby, an eminent meteorologist, who suggested that David pursue hydrology -- the study of water -- thereby combining his engineering and meteorology background. This combination resulted in an unusual fusion in David Todd of a results-oriented practicality born of engineering with a deep appreciation of the scientific method in understanding the complexities of nature.

In June 1948 David completed his civil engineering degree. He married Caroline "Rolly" Lark, who has been his wife and life-long supporter for more than 50 years. The two moved to Denver where Dr. Todd worked for the United States Bureau of Reclamation. In 1949 David completed his Master's degree in Meteorology at New York University. After returning to Denver he was invited to join the civil engineering faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught courses in hydrology and fluid mechanics part-time and completed his doctoral degree in 1952. In 1956 he attended a symposium on hydrology in Dijon, France, where he began to focus his studies on groundwater research.

In the 1950s the sole textbook on groundwater (C. F. Tolman's 1937 Ground Water) was out of print, so Dr. Todd resorted to buying second-hand copies and lending them to his students. Over years of teaching graduate courses on groundwater hydrology, Dr. Todd prepared a comprehensive set of notes and handout materials based largely on the pioneering work of the United States Geologic Survey. These materials and Dr. Todd's research became the basis for his textbook Groundwater Hydrology, first published in 1959 and now in its 3rd Edition. This textbook is unique in being readable and understandable. Dr. Todd recognised that groundwater is the largest source of available fresh water and realized that many professionals and people with responsibility for water supply have a vital interest in groundwater. Accordingly, his textbook not only presents the scientific fundamentals of groundwater hydrology, but addresses real-world issues of groundwater management. Groundwater Hydrology quickly became the standard textbook used by some 52 American universities, published in several international editions, and translated into Hindi, Malaysian, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish. The second edition was published in 1980 and the third in 2005.

Over more than 30 years at UC Berkeley Dr. Todd rose from Lecturer to Professor of Civil Engineering. As a professor, Dr. Todd served as mentor to many of today's world leaders in the field of groundwater hydrology, including Jacob Bear, John Cherry, Allan Freeze, T. N. Narasimhan, Iraj Javendal, and Shlomo Neuman. Dr. Todd always expressed great pride in the accomplishments of his many students.

Dedicated to improving education and making groundwater information widely available, Dr. Todd prepared and compiled widely-used books including The Water Encyclopedia, which was recognised as an outstanding reference book of 1971 by the Library Journal and an outstanding academic book of 1971 by Choice Magazine. Other reference books included Water Publications of State Agencies and Ground-Water Resources of the United States.

His research, which resulted in more than 115 technical publications, addressed the real-world problems of understanding and managing groundwater resources, with particular focus on the problem of seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers and contributions to the practice of artificial recharge, which supplements the natural percolation of rainfall and surface water into subsurface aquifers, where the water can be stored and then retrieved again through wells. After 1970, with the growing recognition of water pollution problems, Dr. Todd's work broadened damatically to include groundwater contamination, monitoring, remediation and protection.

Water supply, an issue of global importance, soon propelled Dr. Todd into international consulting. In 1961 he was personally invited by the science advisor to President Kennedy, Dr. Jerome Weisner, to join a study team to investigate waterlogging and salinity problems in the Indus valley of Pakistan. That assignment was the first of many short-term assignments from both United Nations agencies and private companies, in capacities both as a teacher and a consultant. His work took him to diverse regions of the world: Cyprus, Lebanon, India, Thailand, Venezuela, Japan, Chile, Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Nicaragua and Peru. He often commented on his affinity for deserts, relating the story of one long drive across the Sahara when he and the driver were fueled only by two cases of beer.

Dr. Todd's expertise in groundwater, professional training and demeanor and supreme ability to think on his feet resulted in outstanding service as an expert witness in courtroom cases involving water problems. With 50 years as an expert witness he worked on legal cases that defined California water rights and established the respective responsibilities of government agencies and private companies in addressing groundwater contamination problems. He served as a key groundwater expert for the US Department of Justice on groundwater contamination at Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver, as a hydrology expert for both the State of California and the United States on a lawsuit over Mono Lake, and as groundwater expert for the State of Nebraska in a Supreme Court case where Kansas sued Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming over water rights on the Republican River.

In 1980, after 31 years with UC Berkeley, Dr. Todd retired to dedicate himself to full-time groundwater consulting. He founded Todd Engineers, an Emeryville consulting firm that specializes in groundwater. With his colleagues at Todd Engineers, Dr. Todd was able to address many pressing issues of water management in California, across the United States, and around the world. He championed the idea of perennial yield of groundwater basins, to promote wise management and protection of groundwater. Dr. Todd served as chairman of the board of Todd Engineers and participated actively in consulting projects up to the time of his hospitalization. Most recently, he and his colleagues completed a multi-year project optimizing groundwater management for the Edwards Aquifer, the most productive aquifer in the United States. More details of Dr. Todd's academic and professional experience are included in his curriculum vitae.

Dr. Todd is recognized among his colleagues for his contribution to groundwater hydrology through his research, teaching, and consulting. His early contributions were rewarded with research prizes, distinctions as a professor, and listing in Who's Who. In 1964 he was honored -- along with astronaut Gus Grissom -- with the first Distinguished Alumnus Award from Purdue University. More recently, he was recognized in 1997 by the National Groundwater Association with the John Hem Excellence in Science and Engineering Award. The American Institute of Hydrology recognized him with Honorary Board Membership and the C. V. Theis Award. In 1999 the Groundwater Resources Association of California presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Most recently Dr. Todd was selected to provide the keynote address to the 24th Biennial Groundwater Conference, where he provided a retrospective of 50 years of progress in groundwater management. In 2002 Ground Water magazine invited Dr. Todd to contribute a short autobiography which was published in that year's November/December issue.

David was an avid reader and writer. He enjoyed hiking, tennis, skiing, swimming, golf and regular trips to Europe. His consulting work, sabbaticals, and teaching posts took him and his family to Grenoble, France in 1964, Beirut, Lebanon in 1967, and Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela in the 1970s. He was a member of the Bohemian Club and the Berkeley Tennis Club, and maintained an active social/cultural schedule of activities with his wife in the Bay Area. He was also a member of a local men's club, known simply as The Club. Its members presented papers on a variety of interesting topics. His subjects almost always focused on people: Richard Henry Dana, Rudyard Kipling, the affair of Gustave Flaubert and Louise Collet, William Mulholland, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, John Philip Sousa, the Hydrologic Cycle, Gustave Eiffel, Samuel Pepys, William Richardson, Richard Francis Burton, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Aldo Leopold, and the Discovery of Alaska.

David Todd is survived by his wife, Rolly Todd, their two sons, Stuart Keith Todd and Brian Wesley Todd, and Topper the family corgi, an ornament of the local neighborhood.

Memorial Fund

A fund in memory of Dr. Todd has been established at the College of Engineering of the University of California, Berkeley. Memorial contributions may be sent to the David K. Todd Memorial Fund, c/o College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 308 McLaughlin Hall, MC 1722, Berkeley, CA 94270-1722. Checks should be made payable to the UC Berkeley Foundation with the phrase "Todd Memorial" on the memo line. Online gifts to the fund may be made at http://coe.berkeley.edu/support-the-college/annual-fund by clicking on the Make a Gift Now link and adding the words "For Todd Memorial" in the Special Instructions box.