Mandated Cross Bore Inspections Save City in California

GPRS Sewer Inspection Yields Shocking Results

Mandated Cross Bore Inspections Save City in California

GPRS Sewer Inspection Yields Shocking Results

What would you do if there was a ticking time bomb under your feet?

What about ten ticking time bombs?

That was the situation in Fremont, California, where GPRS’ team of NASSCO-certified Project Managers uncovered a sewer system riddled with cross bores.

Fortunately, the foresight of city officials led to the discovery and mitigation of these dangerous intersections of underground utilities before disaster could strike.

Fremont is the fourth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area at 88.46 square miles. Our client, a large telecommunications firm, was installing fiber across this expansive municipality using horizontal directional drilling (HDD), a trenchless technology that is the most common way underground utilities are installed today.

Trenchless technology allows new utilities to be installed with minimal impact to existing surface features. However, there is a high risk of accidentally piercing, or otherwise damaging existing subsurface infrastructure because the installer can’t see or feel what they are boring through.

An illustration of a cross bore.
Depending on the utilities involved, the consequences of a cross bore could range from inconvenient to truly disastrous.

The biggest risk associated with HDD is that the new utility will inadvertently intersect an existing line – a phenomenon known as a cross bore.

Cross bores are ticking time bombs because it’s not a question of if they’ll cause catastrophe, but when. A cross bore can lie undetected for years before the first signs of trouble appear. Depending on the utilities that are involved, the consequences of a cross bore could range from simply being inconvenient (service interruption), to truly disastrous.

“The majority of what we see is telecom lines, gas lines, or fiber lines intersecting with sewer or storm lines,” explained GPRS Director of Pipe Inspection Services, Kyle Humphreys. “When you’re talking about gas lines, gas could get into residential homes and cause explosions. A cross-bored sewer line could get backed up and cause major damage to sewer or storm lines.”

The Cross Bore Safety Association estimates that there are at least one million undetected cross bores in the United States.

Just one cross bore is enough to leave a community vulnerable to service interruptions, contaminated soil and drinking water, and worse.

And in Fremont, GPRS found ten.

Fortunately, the City of Fremont requires that all contractors performing directional drilling work within its boundaries obtain a video (CCTV) pipe inspection of any sewer lines near the job site both before and after their work is completed.

Our client had previously contracted with a regional firm to inspect Fremont’s sewer system prior to installing the fiber lines. That firm pulled out of the job before the post-installation inspection could occur due to the size and complexity of the project.

That’s when the client called GPRS to step in and complete their contractual obligation to the city.

Because our nationwide team of expertly trained Project Managers are capable of rapidly responding to any job, regardless of scope or size, we were able to assume the responsibility of conducting the post-directional drilling cross bore inspections in Fremont.

All GPRS Project Managers go through both the Subsurface Investigation Methodology (SIM) and National Association of Sewer Services Companies (NASSCO) certification programs as part of their training.

SIM is the industry-leading certification program for utility locators and concrete scanning professionals. It requires 320 hours of field training, and 80 hours of classroom training, both of which include real-world scanning scenarios that prepare our Project Managers for what they’ll encounter in the field.

NASSCO’s Pipeline Assessment Certification Program (PACP), Lateral Assessment Certification Program (LACP), and Manhole Assessment Certification Program (MACP) teach our Project Managers how to consistently and accurately assess the condition of pipelines, laterals, and manholes. These training programs are designed to give inspectors the tools they need to conduct a sewer video inspection to the highest absolute standard, ensuring sewer systems can be assessed and maintained to the highest possible level.

When GPRS Project Managers conduct a VPI, our clients receive a comprehensive package of information that includes detailed descriptions of any pipe defects found, and video footage and screenshots of those problems. The defects are ranked by severity and geolocated, so the client knows what needs to be addressed first and exactly where they need to dig.

In Fremont, our Project Managers located the ten cross bores so they could be mitigated before they caused the city any trouble.

The only reason we were able to find these cross bores was because the City of Fremont mandates pre and post-installation inspections when directional drilling occurs.

Humphreys said that more and more municipalities across the U.S. are similarly mandating these inspections to ensure the integrity of their infrastructure and the safety of their residents.

“I would suggest all municipalities require these inspections when any directional drilling is done,” he said. “We like to be proactive rather than reactive. It’s going to save you money in the long run.”

Ready to regain control of your infrastructure? Click below to request a quote or schedule a service today.

Water & Sewer Damage Awareness Week logo.
Water & Sewer Damage Awareness Week, sponsored by GPRS, is a safety event designed to give you the knowledge and tools you need to regain control of your infrastructure.

To spread awareness about the risks to our water and wastewater infrastructure, GPRS has launched a new safety initiative dubbed Water & Sewer Damage Awareness Week. From October 23-27, our safety professionals are offering complimentary safety talks to municipalities, facility managers, campuses, and anyone else responsible for water and/or wastewater infrastructure.

Click here for more information and to sign up for your WSDAW event today!

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