Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)

Subsurface Locations

When a project may be impacted by the existence of utilities serving the project and surrounding properties, SUE can become an important component in design and construction activities. When combined with FEI's UAS services, painted markings can be captured by aerial photo to create a permanent record of the physical locations of underground utilities.

  • Quality Level D
    • The process of gathering record data (which is not necessarily so simple). This data could be digital records, paper records, internet search, site inspection or just talking to people who are familiar with the site. The available data could be limited and may not produce a complete picture, and if the source of some of the data is unknown or questionable, the completeness and accuracy of the investigation could be compromised. In any event, once the data is collected, it is compiled into a drawing that states the quality level.
  • Quality Level C
    • The process of surveying the visible utility features. This data is compiled with the Quality Level D data and both levels are labeled accordingly. Quality Level C data could, and often will, conflict with the Quality Level D data and raise questions as to the locations of some underground utility lines.
  • Quality Level B
    • Designating the underground utilities, typically performed using “high-tech” electronic equipment and marking the feedback from these devices on the surface of the ground with paint or small flags. The data is added to data collected from Quality Levels D and C. In most instances, the designated utilities are then surveyed and added to a drawing representing the results of a Quality Level B investigation.
  • Quality Level A
    • Physically locating the actual utility – often by ‘potholing.’ Care should be taken when excavating near any live utility. Potholing is usually accomplished by a “soft-dig” using vacuum excavation. In some instances, the top of the utility can be exposed manually, carefully using shovels and hand tools. Once the utility is uncovered, it is located horizontally and vertically by survey measurements. This location is typically to the top of pipe or wire.