Keep Your Pipe Network Structures Out of The Sea

Have you ever went to Draw Pipe Network Parts in Profile View only to have the Profile View become a “Sky Scraper” or in the case of setting the Profile View elevations to user specified, not have any of the pipe network parts show at all?  (That’s because they’re lost in the Sea, Right?  Well not really, they just have an elevation that is 0.00 or less.)  Sea Level, get it?  OK, maybe that was a stretch.


Has it been so early in the design process that your co-worker wants to get started on the Storm Sewers design before you’ve even touched the PG surface and they want to get started preliminarily on the pipe calcs. and you’re afraid to define any Pipe Networks until you get the PG finalized or at least close to done?

I’m going to make an educated guess that some of you have.  This topic might be somewhere out in Blog Land or Discussion Depths, but I occasionally see this happen to a few users.  Hopefully this post will help those few and/or it may just create an additional item to your list of best practices. Make the jump for a tip that may just stop any of those from ever happening.

Now that you’ve made the jump you were probably expecting to see a long drawn out process of some miracle workaround, or maybe even a clever way to trick your co-worker into putting on a straight jacket that was attached to their desk just so you could have more time to complete the PG surface before defining the Pipe Networks.

Nope, It’s really pretty simple.

Have a combination surface of EG and PG. Meaning, create a surface and paste the EG and then paste the PG.

OK!  Now you have a dynamic surface that I personally like to call FG or Finished Grade. That’s what a finished grade is, A combination of the Existing and the Proposed grades. The FG is the surface that you’ll have current when defining your pipe networks.  This will set your structure rim/grate elevations and apply your initial pipe and structure rules with.

Even if you don’t have any data added to the PG, just yet, you can still paste it into the FG and as you add data to the PG your FG will dynamically update along with all your Structure Rim/Grate elevations.

Some Additional Notes:

1.  Have the style of the FG surface set to a No Display style.

2.  Optionally, you can have these 3 different surfaces already pre-created in your template drawing so you can maintain an consistent naming convention.

3.  This is also a good solution for defining pipes that tie into a structure that is offsite or outside of the PG limits ‘cause you can just use the FG surface and it will be the same as the EG.  So all your pipes and structures will reference just (1) surface.

There are some other benefits to having this combined surface but I’ll let your minds work and you can comment on any other benefits that you can come up with.


  1. I knew there was a reason I still read all these post. This is a GREAT IDEA!

    Now just need to train folks on the whole PG \ FG lingo.

  2. Kevin Clark, P.E. says:

    I can’t believe I never thought about that. Thanks for the idea it helps a lot.

  3. This concept works great even prior to a full Final Grading surface. If you design your pipes in a separate drawing, a Design Surface can be created to which you paste your final surface into as you refine your design.

    I Surface Paste!

  4. Mark Jung says:

    Thanks for the Tip!!!

    We have Storm Drain networks that alway use a combination of PG and EG surfaces. Using the combined surface as the reference surface will eliminate the need to set the reference for each structure.

    I haven’t tried it yet but I’m assuming that if there is a surface set for the network the pipes won’t be at sea level.

  5. I’m glad to see that this tip is helpful for some. It’s only my second post on so I guess I can say I’m batting .500 at this point.
    Go Phillies! Cheers!