SUE - Subsurface Utility Engineering


At SurvWest, we use our extensive experience and professional resources to provide quality SUE services. Our worked is done in accordance with the recommended practices and procedures described in ASCE Publication CI/ASCE 38-02 (Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data). As described in the mentioned ASCE publication, four levels have been established to describe the quality of utility location and attribute information used on plans and dependable products to fulfill our client’s needs in a timely and cost-effective manner. Our professional experts have decades of expertise and SurvWest is a recognized leader, known for providing innovative solutions and outstanding service to our clients and their projects.

Benefits of SUE

SUE benefits project owners, design engineers, and utility companies in the following ways:

  • Makes for safer projects
  • Aids engineering design practices involving underground infrastructure
  • Exposes potentially hazardous utilities
  • May find previously unknown utilities
  • Reduces utility-related delays
  • Prevents unnecessary utility relocations
  • Helps eliminate utility outages / service interruptions
  • Reduces costly schedule delays / shut downs
  • Avoids negative media exposure associated with damaged utilities

The Four Quality Levels of SUE

QL-D is the most basic level of information for utility locations. It comes solely from existing utility records or verbal recollections. QL-D provides an overall “feel” for the congestion of utilities and is useful primarily for project planning and route selection activities.
QL-C involves surveying visible utility facilities (e.g., manholes, valve boxes, etc.) and correlating this information with existing utility records (QL-D information). Its usefulness, therefore, is primarily on projects where utilities are not prevalent, or are not too expensive to repair or relocate.
QL-B involves the determinations of the existence and horizontal position of virtually all utilities within the project limits. This activity is called “designating”. Information provided by QL-B efforts can enable the accomplishment of preliminary engineering goals. Slight adjustments in design can produce substantial cost savings by eliminating utility relocations.
QL-A, also known as “locating”, is the highest level of accuracy presently available and involves the full use of the subsurface utility engineering services. It provides information for the precise plan and profile mapping of underground utilities through the nondestructive exposure of underground utilities, and also provides the type, size, condition, material and other attributes/characteristics of underground utility infrastructure.