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What is Utility Locating with GPR?
Utility locating with GPR (ground penetrating radar) is a safe and non-invasive technology that uses radio waves to locate underground utilities and structures. Unlike other utility-locating equipment, GPR does not require a physical connection to the utility nor does it rely on electromagnetic (EM) radiation from the buried utility. GPR can locate utilities in soil, rock, concrete, or wood.
Utility locating with GPR provides information on the presence, location, and depth of both metallic and non-metallic utilities, including the following:
- Communications (cable television, fiber optics, telephone)
When Do I Need to Have Utilities Located?
Anytime you are undertaking a project that involves digging or excavation you need to have your utilities located and marked. This includes seemingly minor projects such as planting trees, installing sprinkler lines, building a deck, and digging postholes as well as major excavation, such as that required for installing a swimming pool or adding onto your home. Various types of utility cables and pipes are buried everywhere and some are extremely close to the surface. Utilities can be located in streets, alleys, vacant ground, farmland, and along property boundaries. Even if you have overhead utility lines in your area, there is still a great possibility that power, cable television, or telephone lines are buried underground nearby.
Taking time before you begin a digging or excavation project to have your utilities located and marked can help prevent the risk of injury to yourself or your workers and can help protect these underground utilities from costly damages.
Why Should I Use GPR?
GPR should be used in conjunction with one-call utility detection agencies. In Utah, this agency is Blue Stakes. Utah law specifies to contact Blue Stakes before excavating and defines “excavation” as “an operation in which earth, rock, or other material on or below the ground is moved or displaced by tools, equipment, or explosives.” When you submit a utility-location request to Blue Stakes, they will coordinate with all utility owners to mark the lines they each own and maintain on your property.
Utah law requires utility owners to only mark the lines they own and maintain. This means that any private utility lines on your property will not be marked. Private utility lines include lines that extend beyond the meter or that are not connected to a meter. Private utility lines are typically not installed or owned by a utility company; however, they are very common and often undocumented. They may include water and sewer laterals, power to a detached workshop or garage, power to a yard lamppost, sprinkler or irrigation systems, and/or lines connected to a propane tank or septic system. Though you will be aware of lines you have installed yourself, there is no way of knowing about lines installed by prior property owners. A private contractor (such as C.R.I., Inc.) who uses GPR can help locate these private utility lines.
In addition, due to improvements in the design and construction of buried utilities, there has been an increasing use of non-metallic materials in buried utilities. Traditional utility locating technology does not work for locating non-metallic materials. Utility locating with GPR is effective in locating both metallic and non-metallic utilities.
On a national basis, it is estimated that less than one percent of damages occur to underground utilities when the utilities have been located and marked prior to excavation. It is your responsibility to obtain as much information as possible about your work area to ensure a safe work environment for yourself and/or your workers. To verify the location of public utilities, contact your local one-call utility detection agency (in Utah, this is Blue Stakes). To verify the location of private utilities, contact a private contractor, such as C.R.I., Inc. Both private and public utilities should be marked prior to digging. You may be held liable for any damages you cause to underground utilities when you do not call for utility locations prior to digging.
At C.R.I., Inc. we employ powerful technology to provide you with precise and reliable information as to the presence, location, and depth of utilities and other infrastructure. We use the MALÅ Easy Locater HDR and the Metrotech 9800 XT™ for utility locating. Because these two systems are complimentary to each other, we employ the use of both tools in our utility locating services to provide our customers with the most reliable and precise information.