Damage Prevention

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Managing Underground Utilities

Nicholas Pravato, Manager 

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The underground world has become increasingly complex and more difficult to manage. For facility owners their responsibilities can include gas, water, fiber-optic, cable, telecommunications, stormwater, wastewater, steam pipes, conduit systems, hazardous waste sites, and other lines. The importance of knowing exactly where utilities have been installed, what materials were used, and how the utilities affect the rest of the managed environment, is critical. Utility information is used for damage prevention, repairing utilities, planning facilities, site clean-ups, maintenance and inventory of utilities, and analysis of utility usage.

Creating an inventory of above ground utilities using GPS technology has been a common procedure for many progressive state and local government municipalities. The underground world has been largely ignored to date because of the perceived difficulties in accessing and collecting the necessary data.

Our goal is to provide accurate underground utility information. Utility locating is provided by radio frequency methods for metallic utilities and ground penetrating radar (GPR) for non-metallic utilities. Hydro excavation is a non-destructive way to Underground Utility 5uncover utilities and provide more precise vertical measurements and visual information. Types of underground utilities include:

• Water (CPW90)
• Power (Private)
• Gas / Propane (Private)
• Sewer (CPW91)
• Storm Water (CCSW)
• Valves
• Fiber Optics (C3BU)
• Traffic Signals (CCTE)
• GDOT Fiber Optics (CCTE)
• Metallic & Non-metallic Piping (including cast iron & galvanized)

During design or planning, cost savings due to fewer utility conflicts and fewer work delays can be achieved when the underground utilities are located early in a project. We recommend, depending on the complexity of the site, that the underground utilities be located at the beginning of a project when the geotechnicians and surveyors are first called out. The earlier in the project that the utilities are known, the more opportunities there are for cost savings.

During construction excavation, the best practice to reduce risk is to locate the utilities before you start. Damage to or disruption of critical utility services such as fiber optic cabling, communication lines, gas piping, or electrical lines during construction is costly (change orders, time delays, and repairs) and potentially dangerous. Something as simple as digging a hole to plant a tree has the potential for damage to property and loss of life.

The Damage Prevention Department provides a second line of defense for protecting underground utilities. Additional responsibilities include:

• Safety
• Audits
• Damage claims/recovery 
• Damage investigations for the following:
    - Water Utility
    - Roads & Bridges
    - Traffic Engineering
    - Broadband Utility
    - Stormwater


Damage prevention makes good business sense!