Why Underground Utility Locating is Crucial for Safe Digging

Underground utility mapping is the process of locating and mapping utilities before undertaking construction projects. Failure to implement safe digging practices can lead to hitting utilities, causing service disruptions, and derailing project completion deadlines. It’s vital for safety and keeping construction tasks on track.

Why Underground Utility Locating is Crucial for Safe Digging

Underground Utility Locating Services & Mapping Explained

Underground utility location and mapping provide project managers insight into what lies below the surface before breaking ground. This process locates critical infrastructure to mitigate risk when digging.

Surveyors use tools such as ground-penetrating radar, electromagnetic locators, potholing, acoustic methods, and aerial inspections in locating underground utilities to ensure safe digging.

Accuracy and costs associated with location and mapping vary depending on the quality of the surveyor and their service offering. These quality ratings range from Quality Level A to Level D, with Quality Level A being the best.

Every year, the complexity of infrastructure increases in urban areas. This creates a higher damage risk if the project manager doesn’t hire services to survey the area adequately. Some of the critical infrastructure located and mapped in projects includes the following.

Electrical Infrastructure

While most areas utilize above-ground electricity cabling, some project managers choose to bury cables in areas where overhead lines will cause a problem.

Striking a buried electrical line at a construction site can severely affect the project and the excavation team. It could create a massive power outage in the local area, disrupt services, and endanger the excavation crew.

Communication & Internet Cables

The internet changed global communications. Many cities bury the fiber optic cables used in transferring data. Striking these cables can disrupt local communications.

Restoring the service can sometimes take days. It can create expensive replacement costs with legal consequences for the company.

Gas Lines

Striking a natural gas line creates an explosion risk and a high potential for a loss of life. Many gas lines have above-ground markers, but surveyors must still map these utilities before any digging project.

Mapping and locating buried utilities is essential in preventing disasters and reducing the risk of on-site danger.

Water Pipes

These pipes deliver water for irrigation, drinking, and industrial use. Damaging a water line by striking it during excavation can create significant service disruptions to an area. It can also cause property damage, resulting in legal consequences.

Sewer Lines

Hitting a sewer line during excavation can create a significant public health and safety threat. It can contaminate soil and waterways, cause sewage overflow, and release waterborne pathogens that cause severe disease.


Old concrete and steel pipework might carry gas or sewage and may be unregistered, making conventional location methods moot.

The Importance of Underground Utility Location Mapping & Its Benefits

Considering these excavation risks, it’s easy to see why utility location and mapping are critical to any excavation project. Managers must consider the following before investing in the location and mapping project.

  • Why is it necessary to locate and map the infrastructure?
  • What is the ROI of the process?
  • How reliable does the location mapping need to be?

Underground utility location and mapping offer a range of benefits for excavation projects. The core advantages of the process are risk mitigation and optimizing project efficiency. Using this technology and reporting offers excavation and construction teams the following benefits.

Compliance For Safe Digging

Federal, state, and municipal laws require contractors to locate and map underground utilities before breaking ground. By working with a qualified, experienced surveyor, contractors can remain in compliance with these rules and avoid penalties.

Preventing Project Delays

Striking underground utilities slows the project, leading to significant and costly delays as the contractor solves the problem.

Improving Site Safety

Locating and mapping underground utilities prevents workplace accidents that can delay project timelines. It also improves safety in the work environment.

Environmental Safety

Striking sewer lines or water mains can cause an environmental disaster that severely impacts the project timeline. It can cause extensive property damage and lead to lengthy litigation processes that add time and costs to the project.

Streamlining Communication

Accessing precise data enables stakeholders to collaborate with utility companies to improve communication and create optimal project outcomes.

Cost Savings

Striking underground utilities can cause extensive, costly repairs to infrastructure. Considering the possibilities for disastrous outcomes, locating and mapping underground utilities offers companies a good ROI.

Call Before You Dig Law

Local laws require utility companies to mark where underground utility lines are located. This is done to prevent damage to underground utilities and prevent a person from being hurt.

Nebraska State law requires anyone who digs to call 811 for a utility locate request before digging. Nebraska811 states that it’s FREE. It’s EASY. It’s the LAW.

In Closing

Strategic location and underground infrastructure mapping offer companies a precautionary measure. They optimize project efficiency and safety while contributing to cost savings by avoiding delays, legal battles, and repairs.

Precision Surveying & Consulting

3D Laser Scanning | Land Surveying | Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

Established in 1999, we operate nationwide with vast experience in a diverse range of services. Our products and services are suitable for Industrial, Medical, Data Centers, and Commercial Sites. We employ highly skilled and experienced professionals and a licensed surveyor, licensed in the state of Nebraska, allowing us to process and certify all our data in-house.

The security and confidentiality of our client’s data are paramount to our working practices. We bring extensive experience and professionalism to every project and customize our support to your individual needs and concerns.

Contact Precision Surveying & Consulting to learn more!