Accurate & Comprehensive Field Data
At Blew & Associates we understand better than most the importance of accurate and comprehensive field data. Through our over 100 years of business we have watched as underground infrastructure has become a more and more prominent part of the construction planning, engineering, and surveying industry. In order to give our clients, the best chance of success and to develop a new standard in damage prevention we have developed our own private utility location team. Our teams not only comply with national industry standards and, are trained in theory and practice of applying subsurface interface radar in engineering and geophysical investigations but, have been revolutionizing the process from bringing their findings in the field into a survey grade digital format that is compatible with almost any program or need. We combine this with our years of surveying experience and top of the line equipment to give our clients SUE grade B data that can be upgraded to level A in certain situations if needed.
There are more than 100 billion feet of underground utilities in the United States, according to data compiled by Common Ground Alliance (CGA) from various industry groups. Of this, more than 50% is made up of private utilities. So whenever a facility owner or engineer decides to take a dive into the subsurface they are taking a step into the unknown and, due to the rise in awareness of damage prevention from 811 marketing, many owners and engineers are aware of this fact. But, in reality, it can still be very unclear how to navigate the task of safe excavation with so much underground infrastructure.
In 2016 the CGA Estimated that “The societal costs associated with underground facility damages in the U.S. in 2016 are estimated at $1.5 billion. This is a minimum estimate based on routine costs for stakeholders directly connected to a damaged facility. It does not include costs such as property damage, evacuations, road closures, environmental impacts, lawsuits, injuries, and fatalities.” and that there were an estimated 509,000 utility damages in 2018 alone.
811 is a great tool and the first step to avoiding safety hazards and costly repairs due to utility damages and, should always be called before any excavation is performed. But, is this enough? In our experience NO. 811 notifies the utility owners within your proposed excavation area. These companies then use their existing records in order to determine whether your excavation area contains any of their underground facilities. The problem with this is that sometimes records can be inaccurate and some of these lines may slip through the cracks. In the event that they do show a utility within your excavation area a field locator will be dispatched to locate the line. Utility field locators are typically well trained and quick to respond but have a limited scope of work, limited equipment, and an exceedingly high demand for their services. They also are only responsible for locating public utilities. While this is a great tool it has its limitations and we believe it is just the first step. Public lines are owned and maintained by utilities and are located to the “point of service” or “dissemination point.” Each utility company determines where their service ends. Also, utility locators typically exclusively use Electromagnetic Locators. While these are great tools for the industry, they only can detect metallic utilities.
In order to get a complete view of the utilities present for your project and, move forward with confidence, it is likely you will need the services of one of our private utility location teams. Our teams will not only locate the private utility lines typically overlooked by 811 services but locate all public and private lines within a project area and document the findings with survey grade accuracy. Our locators have completed locates across the country from small 1 acre vacant lots to large distribution centers and shopping malls and, use an array of utility location tools including Electromagnetic locators, Ground Penetrating Radar and Locating Sondes, along with all provided utility information in order to provide a comprehensive location service so that our customers can complete there projects as safely and cost effectively as possible. We can even provide approximate depths in certain conditions.
Don’t take it from us though. Shown below are some real world examples of just how much can be hiding below the surface and how little of it is usually brought to light by standard procedures.