Another Point of View: Locate Lessons Learned Along the Way

We recently had the opportunity to speak with an environmental professional and colleague about private utility locating through his lens. Take a look at what he shared with us about the benefits of marking before you dig.

“The start of an environmental subsurface investigation is always fraught with uncertainty. As an environmental professional there are questions I ask myself as the first boring is about to get underway. Am I drilling in the right place to identify contamination? Will the geology match what I think it will be? How deep and how far will I need to go to delineate the extent of contamination? Is my budget enough to cover all of the contingencies?

With all of these questions, and the others that materialize as I start collecting data, it is worth my peace of mind to have a handle on underground infrastructure from the start. An active facility that has the potential for soil and groundwater contamination often has active underground utilities such as conduits, cables, or pipes that would be a disaster if damaged. By having my predetermined drilling locations cleared and utilities marked I can focus on the investigation. Depending on the facility requirements to pre-clear specific drilling locations, I may also be able to confidently select new locations on the fly while staying clear of the marked utilities.

A private locate doesn’t just help me avoid problems, it can also help me develop a more effective investigation. By identifying buried utilities during the development of my investigation plan I can take into account the potential for the spread of contaminants to be affected by backfilled utility excavations. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) wrote this well thought out guidance document titled Investigation of Manmade Preferential Pathways for Contaminant Transport. Utilities as preferential pathways are not an issue at every site and not every utility corridor will be a preferential pathway, but at sites with low permeability soil and shallow groundwater the utility excavations can move groundwater (and contaminants) orders of magnitude more quickly than through the undisturbed soil. This extreme example of anisotropic flow results in a far from uniform contaminant plume that could be misinterpreted or missed all together if preferential pathways are not taken into considerations. A well thought out and targeted drilling plan can help anticipate this situation and will be more effective and efficient than drilling blind.
There are times when I know I need a private locate but even when I could get by without one I prefer to avoid surprises. I also prefer to collect as much data as possible before mobilizing drill rigs to a site. A quality private utility locate can add safety and help me conduct a better subsurface investigation.”

Whether it’s being the key to a successful drilling plan or providing an extended level of safety, Baker-Peterson only needs one shot at your project needs. Visit or call 855-756-2283 before you dig.

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