What is Subsurface Utility Engineering or SUE?
SUE is an acronym for Subsurface Utility Engineering, a branch of engineering that involves utility design and relocation services. A crucial component for any SUE project involves designating and locating existing underground utilities.
Subsurface utility locations & designations provide utility conflict avoidance by mapping existing underground utility facilities. CHW utilizes surface geophysical technologies, vacuum excavation, surveying, and data management systems to provide Quality “A” through “D” designation.
Our goal is to apply our surface and subsurface mapping skills to improve our clients’ bottom lines and reduce their risks.
CHW’s surveying and mapping team incorporate existing and emerging technology to identify, characterize, and map underground utility facilities throughout the project development process. This aspect of the design phase of building and construction helps manage the risks associated with unexpected encounters with underground utilities. Engineers can design the most efficient systems and reduce overall project costs by utilizing the most accurate utility mapping and information on the existing utilities using the Subsurface Utility Engineering support services.
SUE is a process, not a technology. SUE is defined as a branch of engineering practice that involves managing certain risks associated with:
+ utility mapping at appropriate quality levels,
+ utility coordination,
+ utility relocation design and coordination,
+ utility condition assessment,
+ communication of utility data to concerned parties, conflict avoidance,
+ utility relocation cost estimates,
+ implementation of utility accommodation policies, and utility design.
These activities, combined with traditional records research and site surveys, and utilizing new technologies such as surface geophysical methods and non-destructive vacuum excavation, provide “quality levels” of information.
Levels of Subsurface Utility Engineering
CHW uses several different tools and methods to perform these SUE utilities mapping services, depending on the different quality levels of data necessary for the project. According to the ASCE Standard 38-02, used across the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (A/E/C) industry, there are four different subsurface utility engineering levels of data quality (QLs):
Level D (QL-D) – Record Research/Data Collection: This level of data is derived from records research or oral history. It gives an idea of how congested the area may be but does not provide specific and accurate detail for utility locations. Any existing conditions plan with a utility level documented on record is automatically considered Level D data by the subsurface utility engineering standards outlined in the ASCE 38 02 standard.
Level C (QL-C) – Visible Surface Feature Utility Survey: Level C data maps out utility surface features by surveying the area and plotting what’s visible above ground. Using these features along with utility records, you can then map underground utilities.
Level B (QL-B) – Utility Designation: This data level is collected using geophysical equipment operated from the surface to designate the locations of underground utilities. Utilities are marked out and recorded on a map with plan documents.
Level A (QL-A) – Underground Utility Locating (Test Hole): This is the highest confidence level of utility locating. Each test hole allows for visual confirmation that guarantees the utility’s horizontal and vertical mapping location. SUE Level A is accomplished using non-destructive vacuum excavation to expose, measure, and map utilities safely.
SUE Technologies: Multiple Tools and Approaches
CHW has an extensive history of using multiple tools to retrieve the quality level of utility data necessary for your subsurface engineering projects:
Electromagnetic induction tools help to locate conductive underground utilities
State of the art ground penetrating radar (GPR) equipment is used to locate conductive and non-conductive underground utilities.
After the existing utilities are designated, the next step is to verify their locations at all points of interest and where the new proposed utility route crosses the existing utilities. Hydro vacuum excavation trucks help to expose utilities for collecting accurate depth information critical for designated utility crossings. Vacuum excavation reduces the risk of damaging underground utilities and is especially useful in high utility congestion or confined spaces.
Recent CHW SUE Services Projects
COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
CHW’s Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) crew worked with Moses Engineering to create survey limits based on the proposed corridor for the upgraded Chilled Water line. Our final survey provided quality level “B” locations of existing utilities to ensure clearance to route the larger Chilled Water Pipes.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
CHW’s Quality Level “D” and “B” utility maps assisted in designing these Chilled Water upgrades. To ensure no existing utilities crossed at the proposed locations, we Verified the Vertical and Horizontal positions (VVH), Quality Level “A,” from the west end of the UF Reitz Union, down the entire length of Inner Road, across SW 13th Street, to Norman Hall.
CHW’s Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) crew determined if any existing utilities would conflict with proposed traffic signal mast arms through non-destructive exploratory digs using vacuum excavation at two corners of SW 13th Street and Inner Road.
Benefits of SUE
You can see our passion for improving infrastructure through the projects we provide professional services for in the communities we serve. The Subsurface Utility Mapping we completed in the City of Gainesville at the University of Florida assisted in the design and upgrades for the Chilled Water Production on campus. The UF Chilled Water Production is responsible for 10 chilled water plants, housing 36 water-cooled chillers, totaling 47,000 tons of cooling capacity.
Utility Mapping can reduce risks and save money. A Purdue University study commissioned by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) found a savings of $4.62 on project costs for every $1.00 spent on SUE services!
If you are in need of SUE support services, or just want to discuss SUE support services, contact CHW’s expert Surveyors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our goal is to apply our surface and subsurface mapping skills to improve our client’s bottom lines and reduce risk.
Experts in the Field
Aaron Hickman, PSM
Aaron Hickman is Vice President and Principal Land Surveyor leading Surveying + Mapping at CHW Professional Consultants. Since joining the firm in 2003, his role has grown. Aaron has 22 years of land surveyor experience and is responsible for managing 300+ land surveying projects per annum. Aaron’s areas of specialization include boundary, topographic, ALTA/ACSM land title surveys, as-built surveys, route surveys, quantity surveys, survey data analysis, survey project management, subdivision plat review, and construction layout.
Jason Claus serves as Director of CHW's office in Jacksonville. Jason has over 26 years of experience and is a certified professional land surveyor and mapper in both Georgia and Alabama. He is proficient in AutoCAD, robotics, GPS equipment, and field software. Jason is responsible for overseeing all aspects of CHW’s office in Jacksonville including operations, quality control, accuracy and attention to detail while always emphasizing professionalism.
Kevin Smith, PSM, CH
A. Kevin Smith, PSM, CH, Director of Surveying + Mapping is a licensed professional surveyor and mapper (PSM) and certified hydrographer with over 11 years of experience. He is one of seventeen professional land surveyors to obtain the Hydrographer Certification in the State of Florida. Kevin has experience managing both large-scale and small-scale civil and utility construction projects, subsurface utility engineering, and hydrographic survey operations working both in the Public and Private sectors.