Locate underground utilities

Locate Underground Utilities

Over the years, more and more of our utilities are being buried in the ground. Some are placed there due to necessity, such as water, sewer and gas lines or underground storage tanks. Others are often placed underground for aesthetic reasons. This usually includes telephone, television and Internet cable, and electrical power lines.

This buried infrastructure is important to the day-to-day functioning of our homes and our businesses. It is critical that it not be disturbed or in any way damaged. Yet, there is a constant need by municipalities and the public to dig into the ground. Governments and contractors need to disturb the ground to install more underground utilities, widen a road or construct a new building. Homeowners find themselves needing to dig to plant a tree, install a home irrigation sprinkler system or install a swimming pool.

It doesn't matter if you are a public works department, a contractor or a do-it-yourself homeowner, it is critical that you know where all underground utilities are located. Failure to locate underground utilities before you dig can result in disruption of services to individual homes or entire neighborhoods. Even worse, cutting into some buried cables or pipes can result in injury or death.

But, underground pipes and cables can be hard to find. In some instances, they have been recorded on GIS mapping. In many cases, however, there is no record of where this underground infrastructure has been buried. In either case, though, a qualified underground utility locating service is needed to find and visibly mark the location of every buried utility. Some may think that all you need to find these buried items is a metal detector. But that is far from accurate. Drainage lines and irrigation systems often contain no metal. Electric lines can be deeper than a standard metal detector can sense.

To find all types of items that can be buried, most underground utility locating services today use Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) equipment.

In many communities, "call before you dig" phone numbers are listing at the beginning of local telephone directories. This is especially useful for homeowners who are planning some excavation work in their yard.