When calling for a utility locate, it is essential to locate a company that specializes in providing both a public and private locate. The “call before” you dig system is a great tool to use when needing a locate in a public right of way. When a locate is needed on private property, the “one-call” system should still be utilized but the private property locate is not complete until a private locator has located all of the utilities.
There are some key differences between companies that provide locates for private property. To ensure that you are going to get the most accurate and comprehensive locate, several questions need to be answered.
First, what equipment is being used during the underground locate? Second, what methodology or operating procedure will be used during the locate process? Lastly, what training has the utility locator received prior to performing the locates?
Due to the different subsurface site conditions that can exist during a utility locate, a suite of locating tools must be used. Electromagnetic locators, ground penetrating radar, magnetometers, cameras, traceable rodders, sondes, and probes should all be used as a part of a complete private property utility locate. Even if the right equipment is used during a utility locate, the locate can fail if a detailed methodology is not followed. When a proven methodology is followed, like the Subsurface Investigation Methodology Specification, the results of the locate will be accurate and repeatable. Perhaps the most important differentiator to look for in a private utility locating firm is their training program. The locate training program should focus on proper use of the locating equipment as well as the methodology used during the process of completing the utility locates.
Locating the underground utilities is only half of the equation. Documenting the subsurface obstruction locations is crucial to the safety of the excavation process after the locate is complete. Pin flags and paint are a typical way to communicate the results of the locate. When choosing a locating firm, ensure that they are able to document the locate results in a detailed map, report or drawing. A CAD file, satellite image overlay, or drawing will give a perfect a permanent record of the utility locate results.
GPRS does not provide geophysical, geological, land surveying or engineering services. If you need such services, please contact an appropriate professional.