At one time, water, sewer, and natural gas were the most common buried utilities. Today, our underground landscape is a maze of unseen pipelines, conduits, wells, storage tanks, vaults, ventilation shafts, drainage facilities, and sewers. Above-ground utilities – typically electrical and telecommunications services – are especially vulnerable to storm damage and premature aging caused by exposure to weather and sunlight. Costly repairs and maintenance of aerial utility installations have driven most new utility services underground.
Locating buried utility services isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Utility services are always supposed to know where their facilities are. For the most part, they do. However, their records don’t always reflect the precise location, depth or composition of their buried infrastructure. Further, their records may not contain information about abandoned, modified or very old infrastructure. Newer buried utilities – including electrical and telecommunications facilities – may exist nearby.
The move toward buried utility services increases the importance of utility locating. The primary goal of precise utility locating is damage prevention. Careful attention to utility locating during the planning services of any construction or excavation project can help a project remain on schedule and budget. It also reduces or eliminates the prospect of unintentional damage to utility infrastructure and injury to construction personnel. All excavation projects require utility locating.
While the utility companies will mark the location of their infrastructure on the surface, it is often helpful to have precise location information. Precision location involves identifying the utility’s horizontal location, its depth, the material of construction, and its relationship to other buried services. Architects and engineers find this information very useful during the design phase of the project. This data prevents costly change orders during the construction phase. Ultimately, precise location information of buried utilities saves the project significant funds.
Currently, about 25% of damage to buried utilities occurs because utility location services were never requested or performed before excavation. About 50% of damage occurs due to errors on the part of the excavation team. Either they don’t know precisely where the utilities are located, or they misinterpret location data. Precision utility locating services can help avoid damages from improper drilling, blasting or excavating because they identify the exact location and depth of buried facilities. They also identify tolerance zones around these services where excavators must hand-dig or exercise other special care.
Precision utility location isn’t just a good idea. Typically, excavators are legally responsible for the cost of restoring damaged facilities to safe operation. Having exact location data mitigates the risk of damage, and reduces or eliminates unanticipated costs associated with site excavation.
White Shield offers precision utility location services. Our experienced team can conduct above-ground and underground examinations to locate all underground facilities in a proposed excavation area. In addition to identifying the presence of buried facilities, our team can also precisely locate the scope and depth of buried infrastructure. If you would like more information about our utility locating services, please give White Shield a call at (888) 882-1142.