I went out to a job the other day, nothing special—just your standard Underground Services Location job. The client was digging a trench approximately 10 meters long. And he simply wanted me to check to make sure there were no underground utilities, along the proposed trench line. As the last thing they wanted to do was hit and damage and underground service.
As he is explaining the job, I’m looking around at the site and I’m thinking to myself. ‘Ahh, this should be pretty easy—we’re in the country and there doesn’t look to be anything out here.’
But anyway, I get started and go through the whole routine as we do for every Underground Services Location job that we go to. I ended up finding an underground power cable, two Telstra conduits and a water pipe, all within his proposed trench.
So, I guess you could say, I potentially saved either a life or tens of thousands of dollars in damages? (depending on whether they hit the power cable first or if they dug from the other end and hit the phone line first)
But it’s no big deal, just a pretty standard sort of outcome for us. I didn’t expect to get any credit or thanks or gratitude from the client, because we were just doing our job and that’s what we’re here to do.
And I’m not bringing it up here to get praise either.
Why I’m mentioning this particular Underground Services Location job, is because of what I found when I located the water pipe.
Take a look at the photo below. The blue dots are of the water pipe that I located.
The reason we write down the depth of the underground utilities that we locate is so that customers can dig down and pothole whatever cable or pipe that we find for them. We recommend they do this by hand digging and seeing the underground utility before they use the excavating with machinery. And of course, if they don’t want to dig down by hand, then we can always offer to expose the underground utility for them, using Vacuum Excavation.
Notice how the pipe swings around the pole and then go straight again to go to the house.
I’d like to say this sort of stuff surprises me, but I do see this sort of thing a fair bit.
I just wanted to post the photo to remind those of you who are doing any digging. If you are not getting an underground service locator in to locate everything for you, but instead just lining up pits and meters from line of sight, just remember, that not all underground services run dead straight.
Oh, and before you plumbers who lay these sort of water pipes, jump on here and say. “They would have laid the water pipe like that, because of the rock in the area”. Take a look at the pink line to the right of the blue marks. That is one of the two Telstra conduits that crosses the proposed trench.
And if Telstra (who are generally the worst for this kind of stuff) can put a conduit in straight, then I don’t know why the plumber couldn’t.
But, hey—that’s a whole other argument for another day. My point is simply that if you are lining up the services by eyesight, be careful because it is very risky.
My advice is, if you are in Victoria, give us a call and we’ll come and help you out. If you’re in any of the other states in Australia then call a Dial Before You Dig certified locator.
Oh, and if you haven’t read it yet, here is the post I originally wrote explaining why you should only use a Dial Before You Dig certified locator. And here is another post I wrote a year later, going into more detail on the DBYD certification. It also goes through how to work out, which underground service locator you should use, to come out to your job site and help you locate all the underground utilities on site.