hydro excavation

March 10, 2017


All too often electric utilities, solid waste facilities, manufacturers, and developers must work on sites where service records are incomplete or possibly nonexistent if the property has a long past.


Despite the fact that you have taken every precaution, hitting utility lines or other hidden infrastructure is still relatively common. Even after all the records are consulted and metal detector tests completed, you can dig up an entire storage tank that wasn’t accounted for or find a random pipe with no apparent usefulness.

Having a tool that can get you down there without damage is a significant benefit to those in the field. SCS recommends using the Hydrovac or Air Knife technologies, tools that can save money and time when working on sites with sensitivities or a longer historical background when the risks are highest.

SCS uses these tools when drilling at a transfer station near older or deeper power lines. We find utilities can be buried deeply below ground or are not encased in metal pipes, making metal detectors useless.

When remediating a historic property for developers with nearby utility lines and there’s a question about the accuracy of the records, it is far safer and cost efficient to use these newer technologies to dig a hole as small as for setting a mailbox, or as large as digging an entire site for construction.

The Hydrovac and Air Knife will both remove soil cover and allow you to see any underground utilities or infrastructure before excavation or drilling. The Hydrovac uses pressurized water and a vacuum system to remove soil. The Air Knife accomplishes the same thing using compressed air instead of water.

SCS Engineers can provide a range of equipment sizes and capabilities including:

  • Exposing utilities down to 20 feet below ground with high power units
  • Reaching locations up to 200 feet from the truck using extensions
  • Using compact units that access areas of uneven terrain
  • Exposing and clearing areas between closely spaced utilities
  • Working through frozen ground
  • Installing monitoring wells or caissons
  • Offering emergency 24/7 service

Keep your project timeline on track and budget with no surprises.

By Thomas Karwoski and Sherren Clark 

About the Authors:

Tom KarwoskiMr. Karwoski has 30 years of experience as a hydrogeologist and project manager. He has designed and managed investigations and remediations at existing and proposed landfills; and industrial, Superfund, military, and petroleum sites.



Sherren ClarkMs. Clark has more than 25 years of experience in civil engineering and environmental science, with a technical background in both engineering and hydrogeology. She manages multidisciplinary projects including landfill design and monitoring, brownfield site investigation and remediation, and environmental management and permitting for private and public sector clients.



Links to SCS Services: CCR, Landfill, and Remediation pages.




Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 pm