Juneseok Lee named as California Water Service Co. Chair Professorship

Collaborative partnership aims to improve area water delivery proficiency

California Water Service Company (Cal Water) has made a five-year gift to the San José State University Tower Foundation in support of student and faculty activities and programs within the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

The gift creates the California Water Service Company Chair Professorship, augmenting teaching, research and creative activities of an esteemed faculty member. In June, Dr. Juneseok Lee was named to the chair.

Lee Juneseok
 Juneseok Lee

Under the agreement, Dr. Lee, an Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineeringin the Davidson College, is leading the collaborative with students and the Cal Water technical staff to solve a wide range of challenges confronting the water industry – from sustainability issues and preserving water quality to dealing with aging infrastructure, limited resources and adequately forecasting customers’ future need. This joint partnership also aims to improve efficiency and service that may one day benefit two million California water users.

“This opportunity allows me to apply theory-based knowledge to solve real problems facing California now and in the future. Having this direct relationship with Cal Water is very exciting, not only because I get the opportunity to get my hands dirty in the field, working along side the technical staff, but so will my students. I can’t think of anything more amazing than that,” Dr. Lee said.

One pressing issue for water utilities across the state is massive energy consumption. “Water is very heavy so it takes a lot of energy to pump it for delivery to customers,” Dr. Lee said, noting stern 20 percent of the total electricity usage in California is consumed in this way– as well as consuming huge quantities of natural gas and diesel fuel.

“If we can figure out how to conserve energy for this process and still meet the needs of Cal Water customers without overburdening ratepayers, we will make a substantial contribution in solving this critical issue statewide,” he said.

Another critical area facing water utilities is asset management. How do water companies optimize decision support systems when resources are limited? With California in a state of severe drought, Dr. Lee says this is an area he’s working hard to address.

Dr. Lee is no stranger to conducting research in the area of water resources engineering. His major focus is on water resource sustainability and drinking water infrastructure management and his research on water resources engineering has been published in a number of highly respected journals, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, the Journal of the American Water Works Association, International Water Association: Water Supply, and the Journal of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Lee has presented in more than 30 professional society meetings, many of his papers were later published in the conference proceedings.

Also to his credit, Dr. Lee is a registered Professional Engineer of Civil Engineering in California, was selected as the 2011 ASCE Fellow for Excellence in Civil Engineering Education. He is also the recipient of 2013 SJSU’s Young Investigator Award in recognition of his scholarly efforts. He joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering department in 2008.

“Having the best and brightest of Cal Water and the University working together on one team will create many opportunities,” said Martin A. Kropelnicki, President and Chief Executive Officer of California Water Service Group, Cal Water’s parent company and a SJSU graduate (‘02). “I look forward to the enhancements in efficiency and service that will result from our collaborative approach.”

“We are pleased to partner with Cal Water on such vital projects with direct impact on Silicon Valley, but that also have implications for potentially benefitting communities across the state, said Dean Andrew Hsu. “Davidson College is proactively engaging with industry to solve immediate and long-term engineering challenges and we hope many other industry leaders will partner with SJSU engineering faculty and students in dealing with their innovative business problems.”