Based on the CI/ASCE 38-02 Standard, Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) is an engineering practice that makes it possible to more accurately establish the location of buried utilities within a project area. This provides a foundation for decision-making around construction design, allowing a designer to make important decisions related to utility coordination, utility accommodation and utility relocation at the outset. We’ve created a Subsurface Utility Engineering Whitepaper to help you effectively implement a SUE Program.
Simply put, Subsurface Utility Engineering cuts project risk and eliminates surprises at later stages of a project. It also saves money. The Ontario Sewer and Watermain Contractors Association recently commissioned the University of Toronto to investigate the practice of using SUE on large infrastructure projects in Ontario. The study chose nine case studies and determined that the average rate of return for each dollar spent on SUE services was $3.41.
SUE is based on the CI/ASCE 38-02 Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data, which provides a framework for evaluating the integrity of data based on four Quality Levels:
Quality Level D (QL-D): Information derived from existing records or oral recollections.
Quality Level C (QL-C): Information obtained by surveying and plotting visible above-ground utility features and using professional judgment to correlate this information with QL-D information.
Quality Level B (QL-B): The application of surface geophysical methods to determine the existence and horizontal position of subsurface utilities within a project’s limits. Non-destructive technologies including Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Electromagnetic (EM) tools are leveraged at this stage to accurately detect conductive and non-conductive underground assets.
Quality Level A (QL-A): Also known as daylighting, QL-A provides the precise horizontal and vertical location of utilities along with type, size, condition and material, obtained by actual exposure, usually through vacuum excavation.
Not all SUE programs are created equal and there are key considerations involved to ensure that risk is effectively managed and a return on investment is realized. To help you achieve success on your next project, we’ve rounded up these considerations in our latest Subsurface Utility Engineering Whitepaper.