The Need For Utility Location During Excavation


Public and private utility systems are run underground for a variety of reasons. For the most part, it is because of the nature of the functions they serve. Gas and septic lines pose an explosive and biological hazard and running them below ground protects the public. Sometimes, it is out of convenience, as the challenged posed by variation in landscape that can deter the laying of a straight or uninterrupted line can be mitigated underground. The other reason is aesthetics. There is growing competition for underground space with the major players being communication providers and big gas and oil corporations.

The Excavation Challenge

Only a handful of systems passing underground are marked. Oil and gas lines are usually marked, but others may or may not be, depending on the laws governing the area. There are color codes to help identify the kind of system passing below. Since not all of them are identified, excavation becomes challenging as there is the risk of interference. Mechanical excavators can easily sever any kind of line, often at a great financial consequence. For this reason, any excavation project must first be preceded by a location exercise or underground utility locating services that seek to find if there are any underground utilities. It is a preemptive measure to forestall any damage that can lead to service interruption.

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These underground utility locating services have proliferated as a result, and these seek to find any kind of utility running underground. They use different technologies to identify and map the utilities in a given area of interest, as different materials go into making different underground lines. It’s a quick, and yet indispensible service that is used by people across different industries including civil, landscaping and construction. It is available to even the home owner, who wishes to do some invasive ground work, such as transplanting a tree, or laying down the pipes for a sprinkler system.

Digging in the non destructive way

The finding of underground lines does not necessarily discourage excavation altogether. Rather, they have inspired ingenious solutions that work around them. Hydro excavation is the go-to method for working around any underground assets that are laid in a private or public area. Pressurized water dislodges the soil from around the pipes, which is later vacuumed into a debris tank. It is a convenient service that takes less time, and requires less labor than the conventional mechanical excavation. From this we can find the digging in the non destructive way.

With the number of systems passing underground likely to rise in the years ahead, utility location services will continue being relevant. There are enough companies around that discharge these services for a fee, and finding one within your locale should be a near effortless task. You’ll most likely find hydro excavation services from the same company, which creates a much needed convenience.