History

The Rochester Section of ASCE was chartered in 1923 and has been an active sponsor  of the Rochester Engineering Society since its inception. The motto of ASCE is: Civil engineers make the difference; they build the quality  of life. 

Civil engineers, possibly more than any other engineering profession,  have a major impact  on the quality of life of each one of us.  From the roads that we drive on, to the water that we drink, to the baseball stadiums where we cheer on the home team;  civil engineers have, and continue to improve the quality of each of our lives.

One of the foremost  examples ofhow  the members of ASCE have improved  the lives of Rochesterians through the years can be found no further away than  in the water that many of us drink.  Coincidentally, the story of that water mirrors the centennial celebration of the Rochester Engineering Society.

On April27, 1872, the New York State Legislature passed  an Act to Supply the City of Rochester with Pure and Wholesome Water.  That act created a Board ofWater Commissioners who engaged  J. Nelson Tubbs as Chief Engineer. Later that year, the Water  Commissioners proposed  a plan summarized as follows: To furnish from Hemlock Lake a supply  of 4 million gallons of water  per day through an iron conduit  with a storage reservoir in Rush and a distributing reservoir on the Mt. Hope range of hills near  the City.  Thus was born the seed of Rochester’s domestic  water system  that is still  used to this day.

Rochester rapidly  expanded and soon the water system  conceived in 1872 was not enough  to meet our needs.  Civil engineers again  responded to that ever increasing need.  In 1892, Mr. A.  Fteley  was retained by the Water  Commission’s Chief Engineer, Emil Kuichling.

The plan developed in 1892 is described as follows: The plans  for the new conduit contemplated the construction of a brick conduit  of  horseshoe shape construction about  six feet in diameter on a grade of one in 4,000  from Hemlock Lake northerly  for a distance  of about 12,000  feet. Seventy-five hundred   feet of this  was in tunnel. A screenhouse was to be built  at the shore from which a steel intake pipe five feet in diameter and 1,600 feet long was to be extended  into the lake to where the water was about 35 feet deep.  The invert of the brick conduit  in the gate house was to be about 17 feet below the low water level of the lake.  From an overflow chamber  at the end of the brick conduit  the water was to be conducted  either in a 36″ cast iron or a 38″ steel pipe conduit  laid on a continuous hydraulic grade of about 1 in 570 for a total distance of nearly 26 miles to its terminus in the city reservoir.  On October 9, 1894, about  2 112 years before the founding of the Rochester Engineering Society, water first flowed through this system  into the Mt. Hope (Highland) reservoir.

Over the ensuing years  the system  first conceived by Fteley and Kuichling was added  to and modified but the basic engineering principles of the collection and transmission of the water were not changed. In 1979, however,  over 100 years after  the first domestic  water flowed from Hemlock Lake to Rochester, the NYS Department of Health notified  the city that the maximum level for turbidity (cloudiness)  in the upland  water supply  needed  to be lowered from 5 to 1 NTU. Once again,  civil engineers answered the call. Following numerous studies and much public debate, a decision was made in 1988 to construct a filtration plant  at the north  end of Hemlock Lake.

The Hemlock Lake water supply  has a long and rich history of civil engineers and their contributions to our community; a history which is a component of the Rochester Engineering Society (RES).  Nationally, ASCE had 2,000 members in 1897, the inaugural year of RES.  Today, ASCE has 120,000 members in 137 nations. The mission of ASCE is: ASCE  enhances  the welfare of humanity by advancing the science and  profession of engineering. That  mission also emulates the service that the Rochester Engineering Society has provided  to our community in its first 100 years.

All the ASCE membership wishes  to thank the Rochester Engineering Society for its contribution to the professions and we look forward  to moving ahead, shoulder-to-shoulder with RES, into the next century.