Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in the ASCE Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data (CI/ASCE 38-02) is “a means to better characterize the quality of subsurface utility information and to manage risks associated with construction activities that may affect existing utilities”.

SDE has extensive experience in the use of SUE as a tool endorsed by the ASCE, APWA, and the FHWA to provide a cost effective systematic approach to managing and assigning risk associated with the research and depiction of existing underground utilities. SDE created a division to provide SUE that ultimately became AirX Utility Surveyors, Inc. SDE and AIRX continue to work as a team to provide full service for all aspects of SUE including utility record research, topographic mapping, surveying, designating, locating, data management, conflict analysis, and 3D modeling for BIM on all your existing utilities.

Utilization of SUE is a unique experience that SDE brings to a project since location and identification of the existing underground facilities is a critical aspect of the design approach and ultimate construction. Unknown or mismarked underground facilities are often responsible for project delays and cost overruns. SUE helps manage this risk.


Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP)
As a subconsultant to Jacobs, SDE recently utilized SUE to provide utility mapping and surveying to Sempra Energy/SDG&E's Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP) project areas as identified by Sempra Energy as gas line replacements and/or testing sites.  It is an enormous achievement that Sempra Energy has established its value in the construction of gas pipeline within the city public roads, that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been alotted for each pipe replacement project.  Seven miles of gas line have been constructed in 2014 with no major misfortunes of hitting or damaging a utility line.

SDE received a Certificate of Recognition by Jacobs for their Process Improvement & Innovation for PSEP in 2015.

SDIA Terminal 2 West Landside Improvements Green Build
apwa-asceSDE utilized SUE to provide utility locating and risk management to URS and Kiewit/Sundt, a Joint Venture, on the expansion of the San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 West Expansion Project. The results identified significant cost savings by avoiding construction changes and construction delays due to unknown utilities and unforeseen work that would ordinarily need to be addressed after the construction contract was awarded to the subcontractors on this design build project.

SUE addresses risk management by depicting the source and confidence level related to the existence and location of subsurface facilities. A quality level is assigned to each facility noted on the plans. This transfer’s to the contractor the risk associated with the confidence level for the horizontal and vertical location of the existing underground facilities allowing the contractor to have a clear understanding and, if required, allowing additional subsurface investigation before proceeding with or in advance of the underground construction.

Primarily SUE identifies four quality levels on the plans:

QL-D: Information that is obtained from record plans and personal inquiries of on-site personnel

QL-C: Information that is obtained from field surveys and visual observations of surface features that indicate the possible existence of underground facilities.

QL-B: Information that is obtained from Geophysical locating techniques such as electromagnetic induction (similar to mark out by Underground Service Alert) or more sophisticated methods such as ground penetrating radar.

QL-A: Information obtained by potholing using non-destructive vacuum excavation methods.

The data from the SUE investigation is then depicted on a drawing with attributes and symbols of each underground facility that allows the designer, contractor or owner to readily understand the quality or risk associated with utilizing the location and characteristics of the underground facility.