Member Profiles: Tedman Lee Navigates 100 Year Old Pipes and Designs the New Calaveras Dam

Tedman Lee is a Senior Engineer with the Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco, as well as the President of the Professional Engineers Chapter of Local 21. Professionally he divides his time between being a Pipeline Design Section Manager and the Project Engineer on the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.

Lee is passionate about his work and takes the work he does on behalf of the public very seriously. “Putting in the best effort for the rate payers, making sure they get the best quality water when they turn on the tap at home, that’s the most rewarding part of my job,” says Lee.

When he’s working as a Pipeline Design Section Manager, Lee’s job is to plan, design, and assist in constructing tunnel and pipeline facilities that transport water from Hetch Hetchy reservoir to 2.6 million people who depend on this water in the Bay Area. This entails replacing of aging infrastructure, including pipes that are sometimes more than 100 years old. When the applicable Operations Department identifies a need, Tedman and his team design and construct the project for them, handing back a shiny new piece of infrastructure.  One of the biggest challenges? “Navigating the utilities that crisscross under the ground, especially in the city,” said Lee.

The other half of Lee’s job is focused on the largest project in the Water System Improvement Programto upgrade regional and local water systems: The Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. The replacement project started in 2011 and has a projected end date of April 2019, and will construct a new 220 ft. dam designed to accommodate a maximum credible earthquake on the Calaveras Fault. Lee says that building a brand new dam is exciting “because it’s a completely unique project- there aren’t previous plans we can use as a copy, so everything we are doing is fresh.”

Lee also emphasizes the importance of having unionized public service professionals doing as much of the work as possible, and in building institutional knowledge about these projects in the City’s workforce. “There are some great people who work for contractors,” he says, “but at the end of the day those companies are about making a profit and their workers can’t advocate for quality the same way unionized city workers can. Our mission is to serve the public’s interests, not to make a profit, and by having a voice in our workplace and some job security, we can better advocate on behalf of the public for the best work possible.” Lee’s proud of his years as President of the Professional Engineers Chapter of Local 21, one of the largest chapters in the union. Lee says that he makes sure to communicate union business to his co-workers and tries to make himself available for questions on a day-to-day basis.

Local 21 salutes Tedman Lee for his work on behalf of the public and his fellow union members!