Subsurface Utility Engineering

Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) is a process that has been known to save potentially thousands of dollars in underground pipeline design simply by addressing wet and dry pipeline utility conflicts well in advance of any subsurface utility installation. Subsurface utility engineering is necessary in the design phase when planning, for example, a construction project that requires new or upgraded sewer, water pipeline, or storm drainage systems.

Subsurface utility engineering encompasses many different engineering activities. According to the standard for SUE, developed in 2003 by The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Subsurface Utility Data, Subsurface Utility Engineering 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, utility relocation cost estimates, implementation of utility accommodation policies, and utility design.

Construction project owners can benefit from using subsurface utility engineering. Whether you represent a public agency preparing to install water pipeline improvements in streets or public communities or a private land owner needing to install new storm drainage systems, the subsurface utility engineering process can benefit your project. Below are some important tasks associated with the greater processes that one should be familiar with when considering subsurface utility design of new construction projects:

Scope of work - Developing a written project-specific work plan package that consists of scope of work, levels of service vs. risk allocation, project schedule and desired project delivery method. This SUE work plan package is agreed upon by the SUE provider and the client, describing the SUE work to be performed.

Designating - Using a surface geophysical method or methods to interpret the presence of a subsurface utility and mark its horizontal position on the ground surface or on above ground surface markers.

Locating - Exposing and recording the precise vertical and horizontal location and providing utility size and configuration of a particular utility.

Data Management - Surveying, designating, and locating information to project control and transferring it into the client's CADD system, GIS file, or project plans.

Conflict Analysis - The engineering process of using a conflict matrix to evaluate and compare depicted designating information with proposed plans in order to inform all stakeholders of potential conflicts, potential resolutions and costs to cure.

It is important to know a subsurface utility engineering contractor that is credible and can provide the engineering services mentioned above. This SUE contractor should have a team of technicians that are trained in a variety of geophysical prospecting techniques. Also, this team should be familiar with both air and water vacuum excavation equipment to help deliver the best project possible. You owe it to yourselves, project owners and stakeholders alike, to rely on an underground utility contractor who is knowledgeable and experienced in the application of the subsurface utility engineering process.

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Published on November 30, 2010 | Comments: 0

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