Why Locating Underground Utilities Matters, And How UPA Can Help

Once utility lines moved from overhead to underground, service reliability improved markedly. While moving and locating utilities underground helped to ensure continuity, it also ushered in additional layers of complexity and challenges.  Homeowners, landscapers, construction companies, and utility companies themselves no longer have a line of sight on these critical lines.  This means one unlucky nudge of a shovel could result in a severed line and interrupted service.

The only way to safely and smartly proceed with a project that involves digging is to locate all underground utilities before breaking any ground at all.  That’s precisely why Utility Partners of America (UPA) created its Private Locating Division. Our goal is to help utilities and contractors identify buried utility infrastructure that could be disrupted by an upcoming excavation.

Here are the top reasons underscoring the importance of properly locating utilities before digging and more information on UPA’s private locating services.

Locating Utilities Can Avoid Injuries, Outages And Disruptions

What happens if someone lacks awareness about what’s buried beneath the ground? A person digging with a shovel, spade, or another tool with metal components could put themselves and others around them at risk of electrocution if they strike a high-voltage electric line.  Human safety is paramount.  Properly locating underground utilities before you dig keeps people safe and helps them avoid injuries.   

Related: Top Five Self-Protection Safety Tips for Field Techs Working Outside

In addition to avoiding safety hazards, there is a significant risk of causing a service outage when digging without locating utilities. Unknowingly cutting a line could cause a home, neighborhood, or even an entire section of the city to lose power, water, or telephone functionality. But there are other disruptions beyond just service outages that can occur if digging takes place before locating utilities first. Striking a gas line can result in serious injury or at the very least, serious disruptions, such as a building’s evacuation.  Similarly, hitting a water main can result in the need for a boil-water advisory.

Related: Locating Underground Utilities Prior to Digging: Three Reasons

Finding Utilities Quickly Is Good Customer Service

If you take one look at Call811.com, you’ll see this headline in big, bold print: “Know what’s below. Call before you dig.” As mentioned, contacting the service is the first step for anyone who wants to start digging. State laws dictate how long utilities have to locate their underground lines for customers. However, it’s a good practice to complete that process as soon as possible. If for no other reason, expediting this process can serve as a good customer service gesture. No utility wants to be the last company to locate its lines. That type of delay could cause anxious project owners to proceed without any markings, severing lines in the process. Projects can’t start until all underground utilities are located, so time is of the essence.

Related: Proactive Equipment Checks: A Lifeline for Your Business

UPA Strives For Client Success

In order to ensure our clients’ private locating needs are met, UPA deploys many different tools, equipment, and methods. 

For example, we can use a Vivax Transmitter to produce a radio signal that travels through utility pipes or cables to find the location. In cases where there is no metal present, we can use ground penetrating radar to create an image of what’s buried beneath, producing a digital image of subsurface objects. Lastly, we can even utilize a fiber optic camera that penetrates through pipes to find the location and diagnose any potential damage inside.

Final Thoughts on Locating Underground Utilities 

The various reasons why utilities must be located before digging are clear. Unfortunately, the process is not always as simple as it sounds. That’s why so many utilities, energy cooperatives, and utility contractors have turned to Utility Partners of America (UPA) for assistance.

The team at UPA has extensive experience and equipment to quickly and efficiently locate utilities with extreme precision. When a client’s team needs help, the UPA staff can smoothly integrate and perform as the client’s own workforce. Our staff seamlessly adheres to existing data security and safety protocols. If you’re interested in learning how we can work with you to satisfy your customers’ utility location needs, contact us or call (888) 667-1411 today.