May Town Hall Recap | How can SUE and Accurate Maps Be Used to Reduce Both Damages and Costs?

engineering esa town hall gpr locate locating sue Aug 08, 2022

How can SUE and Accurate Maps Be Used to Reduce Both Damages and Costs?

Moderator: Daniel Bigman, President, Bigman Geophysical
• Barbara Cederberg, COO, Gopher State One Call
• Ron Peterson, Executive Director, NULCA
• Brenda Reigle, Executive Director, NUCA of Pennsylvania
• Lawrence Arcand, President, 4Sight Utility Engineers
• Jim Anspach, Affiliate Assistant Professor, Iowa State University
• Nick Zembillas, CEO/MD, Subsurface Utility Engineering, LLC

On May 12, Infrastructure Resources held our second Excavation Safety Alliance (ESA) virtual Town Hall titled, How can SUE and Accurate Maps Be Used to Reduce Both Damages and Costs? As with last month’s ESA Town Hall titled, Late Locates: Partnering with Notification Centers, the goal of our ESA Town Halls is to give everyone in the industry a voice and to provide a forum to work together towards solutions to common problems. May’s ESA Town Hall brought in over 100 stakeholders to discuss Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) within the context of damage prevention. The panelists represented a variety of industry stakeholder groups including those within the One Call, Locating, Contracting, and SUE professions. Their collective and diverse expertise was on full display during this engaging discussion. Some of our panelists have been deeply involved and integral to the development of SUE from its most nascent stages and bring to the table more than 40 years of experience.

The Town Hall began with a discussion of how one would define SUE. Many of its aspects were parsed out over the ensuing 70 minutes, but Nick Zembillas started things off with defining SUE as a professional practice that encompasses three main professional disciplines which include civil engineering, geophysics, and surveying. Additionally, it was noted by Jim Anspach that SUE attempts to identify and document all utilities whether you know about them or not. This can be surprisingly challenging when 30-40% of utilities are not on record anywhere. Stakeholder Bill Kiger of Pennsylvania One Call emphasized that challenge by informing the other stakeholders in the chat that some lines in the northeastern United States date all the way back to the 1700’s.

The free-flowing discussion during May’s ESA Town Hall covered additional questions and topics, including:

• What companies or professional organizations are responsible for the SUE process?
• Does starting the construction process with SUE reduce the likelihood of utility damages?
• What is the relationship between SUE and utility locating?
• What role should professional organizations have in monitoring the practice of SUE?
• How do we define accurate maps? Who is legally able to create a map?
• What are the ASCE standards? What separates the different quality levels?
• Should every utility be buried with tracer wire?
• What are the benefits of SUE?

Want to view the full ESA May Town Hall for yourself and get answers to all the above questions? Click HERE! We encourage you to participate in future ESA Town Halls and to suggest topics of interest to YOU. Want to attend an in-person Town Hall? Join us for the annual Global Excavation Safety Conference. For more details and to register, visit

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