What is the Utility Engineering & Survey Institute (UESI)?

(Editor’s Note: This is the 8th in a series of articles addressing misperceptions that exist about Subsurface Utility Engineering.)

My mother grew up in Rives, a small town of about 400 people near Reelfoot Lake in the northwestern part of Tennessee. There were many small towns like Rives in the early 20th century. It had a post office, a train depot, a grocery store, a hardware store, two churches and a high school.

In about 1903, the Cumberland Telephone Company (soon renamed Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company) installed equipment on the second floor of the hardware store and telephone service became available for  he residents of Rives. In 1925, the  residents of Rives began enjoying the  convenience of electric lights and  electrical appliances in their homes. In 1968, water was piped into  Rives and residents had the privilege of using as many as three thousand gallons of water a month.

Interesting maybe, but what does this have to do with anything? Well, as utilities began to emerge in the 20th century in cities all around the country, many of them were placed underground. Some years later as efforts began to be made to “get the farmers out of the mud,” many of these utilities were in the way of road building. Since nobody remembered exactly where they were located, many of them were damaged. Such damage intensified throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s when construction of the Interstate Highway System was underway.

It wasn’t until 1988, though, that the U.S. government recognized the need for damage prevention legislation and passed the Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Act of 1988. This law required all states to establish One Call coverage for pipelines, and also required the states to establish qualifications and procedures for operating One Call centers. M ore years went by and further efforts to prevent damage to underground utilities emerged, such as Subsurface Utility Engineering, Common Ground Alliance, 811, and more. And now we have the new Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute (UESI), one of nine institutes of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

UESI was formed in October 2015. M r. James Anspach, who has written many articles for Damage Prevention Professional, including an introduction to UESI in last spring’s issue, is a founding governor and President. This new institute offers professionals in the utility engineering and surveying communities a means to collectively improve their profession by providing products and services that enable excellence in engineering, planning, design, construction, operation, and asset management.

What does UESI have to do with damage prevention? The answer to this question is not readily obvious in the UESI literature on its website (www.asce.org/utility-engineering-and-surveying/ utility-engineering-and-surveying-institute/). So I asked Jim, and he told
me about the goals of some UESI committees, including development of utility design and installation standards, an ASCE locating technician certification program, a Utility As-Built standard, and corresponding Construction Inspection Guidelines and model One Call design ticket statute language.

I will talk more with Jim and other UESI leaders about damage prevention and in the next issue of  Damage Prevention Professional will discuss these goals and others that may be of interest to you, as well as explain how members of the utility damage prevention community can become involved.


C. Paul Scott is Cardno’s National Utilities Liaison. He is retired from the Federal Highway Administration and now promotes Cardno’s utility coordination and subsurface utility engineering activities with state DOTs and other public and private clients.

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