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ASCE Standard 38-02

In 2003 the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published a document titled “Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data”. The standard defined SUE and set guidance for the collection and depiction of subsurface utility information.


This ASCE standard presents a system to classify the quality of existing subsurface utility data. The classification allows SUE providers, engineers, constructors and project owners to manage utility related risks due to existing utilities. Utility information that is collected and presented following this classification system can be readily interpreted by a user familiar with this standard. The standard defines four Quality Levels of utility data. The different levels are described below:

Quality Level D

Information derived from existing records or oral recollections.

Quality Level C

Information obtained by surveying and plotting visible above-ground utility features and by using professional judgement in correlating thisinformation to Quality Level D.

Quality Level B

Information obtained through the application of appropriate surface geophysical techniques to determine the existence and approximate horizontal position of subsurface utilities.

Quality Level A

Information obtained by exposing and measuring the precise horizontal and vertical position of a utility at a specific point.

ASCE 38-02 sets out guidelines for how to qualify the accuracy of mapping existing infrastructure and relay that information to a drawing. ASCE goes into the SUE process and roles and responsibilities of the SUE professional and the owner. It’s more prescriptive.

To order a copy of the standard from the ASCE website, please click here.

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