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What is Subsurface Utility Engineering? What are SUE Quality Levels?

by | on | in Damage Prevention of Utilities | 0 Comments

Subsurface Utility Engineering is a practice engaged during various planning and construction phases to identify underground infrastructure and conflicts. It involves utility locating, utility mapping and surveying.

What is Subsurface Utility Engineering?

underground utility engineeringThe SUE process or subsurface utility engineering is an engineering practice combining civil engineering, surveying and geophysics, which utilizes utility locating techniques to provide critical and reliable data on the location of utilities in a specific project area. This utility engineering practice is engaged during various planning and construction phases which correspond with four Quality Levels.

What are the Subsurface Utility Engineering Levels?

A.  Designating & Locating

Quality Level A is the most precise quality level in the SUE Process. It is recommended during the design and construction phase of most projects. Here, exact horizontal and vertical locations of the facilities or utilities are determined and the utility is actually exposed through unobtrusive excavation methods, such as hydro excavation or potholing. The utilities are surveyed, measured, and utility mapping is executed.

B. Designating Only

Quality Level B is generally performed in the early design phase when utility records are unreliable. Here a utility locator determines subsurface data though geophysical locating methods, such as electromagnetic utility locating to identify the existence and approximate horizontal position of the utilities. The results are recorded onto a locating report.

C. Visible Features

Quality Level C is usually performed during project planning phases. Here, during a visual inspection of the site, utility locate data is estimated and plotted by correlating existing surveys (Quality Level D records) in combination with aboveground utilities. The assessments are then recorded.

D. Records Review

Quality Level D is generally performed during preliminary designs of a project to identify potential costly utility relocations. Here, there is no site inspection and subsurface utilities are estimated based upon existing records, and in some cases verbal recollections.

To learn more about subsurface utility locating, visit “What are the common utility location methods?

Linc Energy Systems specializes in damage prevention and offers a line of underground utility locating equipment


Linc Energy Systems services the Rocky Mountain and surrounding states,* including:

  • Colorado (CO), including: Boulder, Colorado Springs, Cortez, Denver, Durango, Grand Junction, Greeley, Pueblo, Rangely, Rifle, San Juan Basin, Steamboat Springs and Sterling
  • Idaho (ID), including Boise, Idaho Falls, Mountain Home, Pocatello and Twin Falls
  • Montana (MT), including: Billings, Bozeman, Kalispell, Missoula
  • Western Nebraska (NE)
  • New Mexico (NM), including Albuquerque, Farmington, Gallup, Fort Sumner, Hobbs, Las Cruces , Los Alamos, Santa Fe
  • Western North Dakota (ND), including Bismark
  • Western South Dakota (SD), including Rapid City
  • Portions of Texas (TX), including Odessa and Midland
  • Utah (UT), including Centerville, Murray, Ogden, Provo, St. George, Salt Lake City, Vernal
  • Wyoming (WY), including: Big Piney, Casper, Cheyenne, Cody, Evanston, Evansville, Gillette, La Barge, Laramie, Rawlings, Rock Springs and Sheridan

*Linc Energy Systems does not represent all of its products and all manufacturers in the entire service territory. 



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About The Author

Susan Bender started selling to the natural gas industry in 1980. In 1990 she founded Linc Energy Systems, where she remains as President and CEO. She attributes her success to her philosophy, “The customer is king (or queen),” which remains part of her company’s mission.


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