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Thread: Underground Utility Database

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    Default Underground Utility Database

    I just landed a 16 site project for a large Southern Californian City, all together it's 1.25 million square feet of locating. Before heading down there, I want to do as much research as I can. Do any of you know about a database that has any underground utility layers? It would be nice to know where the sewer mains, water, communication, and other main utilities are so I have a better starting point that just starting blind in an asphalt expanse. Thank you!

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    Hire experienced locators. Hopefully one with SUE experience. Get public locates to show where the utility goes private and start working your way in from there. You can look for blueprints to what is on the property now and previously. Building permit records pertaining to the property might give clues. If it's urban rebuilding there could be a lot of abandoned or even still used facilities that have no records. Look for retention ponds in the area and check if any drainage pipes are feeding it. Is it just asphalt? How deep are they going?
    Sounds like a big project. Have you done anything like this before?

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    I used to manage half of my old company's utility locate crews, I did all the mapping. I spent some time with them in the field to learn the ins and outs, and I did the line locating for the well pads at last company. I have 4 years of off and on again experience. The science behind locating is a no-brainer for me, since my degree is in physics and geology. But I know that field experience is what separates good locators from great locators.

    As for the locations, 13 of them are parking lots. A large utility company in California is putting in solar covered parking for the City. We are doing the surveys and legal descriptions (ALTA surveys, if you're familiar). They also want the subsurface utility locations so when the set the posts and dig their electrical trenches they won't hit any existing lines. Since it's over asphalt almost exclusively, I don't expect much in the way of difficult lines - eg: HDPE, PVC, or un-reinforced concrete. But I know this doesn't mean I can be flippant.

    I've thought about calling 811 prior to arriving on site, to give me that edge and extra hand, but wasn't sure if that's SOP or goes against some honor system among locators. I'm currently looking into this particular City's code to know the basic info on their major utilities - eg: sewer line size and preferred placement, same for water, where the rights of way are, et cetera.

    Thanks for the info!

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    Quote Originally Posted by tbarksdale View Post
    I used to manage half of my old company's utility locate crews, I did all the mapping. I spent some time with them in the field to learn the ins and outs, and I did the line locating for the well pads at last company. I have 4 years of off and on again experience. The science behind locating is a no-brainer for me, since my degree is in physics and geology. But I know that field experience is what separates good locators from great locators.

    As for the locations, 13 of them are parking lots. A large utility company in California is putting in solar covered parking for the City. We are doing the surveys and legal descriptions (ALTA surveys, if you're familiar). They also want the subsurface utility locations so when the set the posts and dig their electrical trenches they won't hit any existing lines. Since it's over asphalt almost exclusively, I don't expect much in the way of difficult lines - eg: HDPE, PVC, or un-reinforced concrete. But I know this doesn't mean I can be flippant.

    I've thought about calling 811 prior to arriving on site, to give me that edge and extra hand, but wasn't sure if that's SOP or goes against some honor system among locators. I'm currently looking into this particular City's code to know the basic info on their major utilities - eg: sewer line size and preferred placement, same for water, where the rights of way are, et cetera.

    Thanks for the info!
    Are you at all familiar with ASCE 38-02? Do you have any idea of the facets of SUE? Quality levels? Pedigree of data?

    It worries me that such a project would be entrusted to someone with so little knowledge of SUE...Good luck
    UULC and yahoo like this.

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    Ouch! Yes, I am very familiar. Also with California Government Code Section 4216 concerning the One-Call Law, as well as California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 4, Article 6, Section 1541 (a) & (b). I know the differences between quality levels D, C, B, and A. My goal is to get the best quality C data I can. I have been around the block enough times to know that a number of owner/operators don't give a rip about the contractor coming out to do the locating (One in particular was a road-bore under a highway and NO ONE came out to mark anything. I just got the emails just before the 48-hour mark. Fortunately we were able to locate everything on our own and then take it up with our State's One-Call service.) I've been on enough sites to see that subs come out, only locate the lines that daylight, and leave everything else unmarked. Most of my work has been in areas without even level D data. Pipelines that were buried 60 years ago and no records were kept. When one oil company bought a fee from another or took over a lease, there was no data given from one to another. Not having preliminary data to start from sucked. I've done some urban work, but one of this magnitude is new for me as well as the city I'll be working in. Some places do a good job keeping records, others do not. I appreciate your concern, but you don't have to worry.

    I don't claim to know everything or to know more than someone else. I was just asking if anyone had any resources they have used to get the quality C info, as the municipalities I am working in have little to no records.

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    Quote Originally Posted by tbarksdale View Post
    Ouch! Yes, I am very familiar.... My goal is to get the best quality C data I can.....I don't claim to know everything or to know more than someone else. I was just asking if anyone had any resources they have used to get the quality C info, as the municipalities I am working in have little to no records.
    What resources are you looking for to achieve QL-C data???? QL-C is the geopositional survey of the existing visible utility appurtenances (valves, hydrants, meters, backflow preventers, manholes, vaults, ped boxes, risers, cross boxes, hand holes)...you should not need someone else's records to obtain QL-C data, you would use the QL-C data you collect to compare to the QL-D data provided by the facility owners and start to determine what is missing...

    But hey, what do I know...I've only been doing this for 30 years....


    Hey IfindIt....Aaron, you on the same page???
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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    Please don't call 811 to get a good starting point... that is not what one-call is for! 811 is for contractors that are disturbing the ground in specific areas so that the owner/operators and contract locators can mark their facilities which come in conflict with the SPECIFIC areas.

    If you called in a general "locate entire property up to and including all row's and easements" just to see what's there and not there.. it would take me exactly 3 seconds to close it out as a design ticket. Please keep this in mind.
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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    You have to call for locates any time you dig. The contractors will be calling them in constantly soon enough. I don't like survey tickets either but I'd help an SUE guy if I could.

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    Quote Originally Posted by The Big-E View Post
    Please don't call 811 to get a good starting point... that is not what one-call is for! 811 is for contractors that are disturbing the ground in specific areas so that the owner/operators and contract locators can mark their facilities which come in conflict with the SPECIFIC areas.

    If you called in a general "locate entire property up to and including all row's and easements" just to see what's there and not there.. it would take me exactly 3 seconds to close it out as a design ticket. Please keep this in mind.
    If your local One-Call agency has a specific type of request classification for "design" or "survey" tickets like most do... That means it is acceptable for people to call in for survey requests. What you do with that request is upon you.

    When it comes down to our utilities or our property... I would rather be the one giving them the information. I know where our Feeders are, as well as, all the power companies feeders. I prefer any company who plans on installing another "F"ing fiber optic cable know that they will be right on top of a main electrical line that feeds the largest international airport in the state. Typically, that will push them to the other side of the road. You won't get that knowledge if you just have a private guy come out.

    I'm not saying closing out the ticket is wrong, i've closed a few in my day without so much as a call to the contractor. However, this will typically be based on the type of work going on.... sometimes who called it in.

    mke

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    Quote Originally Posted by tbarksdale View Post
    I used to manage half of my old company's utility locate crews, I did all the mapping. I spent some time with them in the field to learn the ins and outs, and I did the line locating for the well pads at last company. I have 4 years of off and on again experience. The science behind locating is a no-brainer for me, since my degree is in physics and geology. But I know that field experience is what separates good locators from great locators.

    As for the locations, 13 of them are parking lots. A large utility company in California is putting in solar covered parking for the City. We are doing the surveys and legal descriptions (ALTA surveys, if you're familiar). They also want the subsurface utility locations so when the set the posts and dig their electrical trenches they won't hit any existing lines. Since it's over asphalt almost exclusively, I don't expect much in the way of difficult lines - eg: HDPE, PVC, or un-reinforced concrete. But I know this doesn't mean I can be flippant.

    I've thought about calling 811 prior to arriving on site, to give me that edge and extra hand, but wasn't sure if that's SOP or goes against some honor system among locators. I'm currently looking into this particular City's code to know the basic info on their major utilities - eg: sewer line size and preferred placement, same for water, where the rights of way are, et cetera.

    Thanks for the info!
    Hey Barksdale,

    Couple of things... First off, There is no golden program that will show all utilities in a certian area. Just isn't going to happen. Typically all utility companies or pubic agencies that maintain utilities will have a electronic file of their infrastructure, however, location wise this information isn't as accurate as one hopes. They use the information to populate GIS maps used specifically for the agency and location isn't as important as flow. SO on a regular satelite photo you may have the line on the north side of the road, but when you go out to the field you'll see all the features on the south side. You may luck out and find a weird agency that has collected the information from previous work, but you will only know this if you have a contact in that agency that knows that specific information. What I would do is do a ticket search of the area. Pull up an existing One-call request of one of your areas and personally contact the companies listed and track down their engineering department or dispatch and see if they have a contact to view their information for design issues. I would do this way before calling in a locate.


    Secondly, you realize that parking lots are typically filled with unlocateable utilities? Most of the drainage will be PVC, or concrete depending on the age. They typically will have Lights, which locate great, but they will typically have added CCTV cameras after the fact and those small fibers or data cables locate like crap. Not to mention and revenue control equipment (Gate equipment). Some places don't charge for parking, but we do. we have quite a bit of utilities associated with the parking lots. In half of our lots, we have city utilities that cut through and are main lines. That is why the lot hasn't been built up, because they don't want to pay for the re-routing of the utilities. It all still comes down to contacting the agencies in the area and getting a working relationship with them to reach the goal.

    I would hold off on calling the One-call locates till you actually arrive on site and take a good look of the companies you are dealing with. If you overload them with Design requests, you will typically piss off all the locators and you will not get the response you are looking for.

    If you already have the gig, there is locators from all over the place, we may know who you need to talk to, or at the minumum how the local one-call center handles design tickets.

    mke

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    good luck with your project .
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Underground Utility Database

    How could even land the contract if you're on a message board asking for advice where to start? No offence but I would be pretty scared if I were the person that hired you .
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