Subsurface Utility Engineering – SUE

SUE Water System Designation & Location

Managing Risk with Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)

Subsurface utility engineering or SUE, is an engineering practice that uses nondestructive geophysical investigating techniques to verify the existence, condition and exact location of underground utilities.

Nearly every day, an unsuspecting contractor accidentally damages underground utilities during a routine project. Such accidents can be costly, litigious and even deadly. Subsurface utility engineering, or SUE, can help prevent such accidents.

Subsurface utility engineering manages the risks associated with underground utilities. Using a variety of nondestructive geophysical investigating techniques, engineers and surveyors verify the existence, condition and exact location of underground utilities. Armed with that information, designers can plan projects that minimally impact utilities. Contractors can improve productivity and create safer job sites. And clients can save an average of $4.62 in construction costs for every dollar spent on subsurface utility engineering.*

McKim & Creed provides all four quality levels associated with subsurface utility engineering:

  • Quality Level D – Information gathered solely from existing utility records.
  • Quality Level C – Involves surveying visible, above-ground utility facilities and correlating this information with existing utility records.
  • Quality Level B – Uses surface geophysical techniques to determine the existence and horizontal position of underground utilities.
  • Quality Level A – Employs nondestructive digging equipment at critical points to determine the precise horizontal and vertical position, as well as size and type, of underground utilities.

In addition to subsurface utility engineering, McKim & Creed offers data collection, utility inspection, electromagnetic detection, ground-penetrating radar, data processing and map development.

Subsurface utility engineering is appropriate for any project in which verification of underground utilities is needed, including municipal infrastructure; transportation; gas, electric and nuclear utilities; and land development.

*From “Cost Savings On Highway Projects Utilizing Subsurface Utility Engineering,” published by Purdue University, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration

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