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ELECTRONIC MARKING DEVICES FOR WASTEWATER FACILITIES

Installation Recommendations

By Mike Addington

August 31, 2016

As owners of buried utilities, the Georgia Dig governs how we


respond to excavation notices received by the Utilities Protection Center
(UPC). Due to the difficult nature of locating sewer facilities, the law goes
into great detail on how sewer locates are to be addressed. In the past,
most of efforts have neglected sewer facilities as most excavation did not
take place at depths placing our facilities at risk. The recent deployment
of Google Fiber and the need for other internet providers to increase their
broadband capabilities has not only increased our day to day workload but
unfortunately exposed our sewer facilities to more excavation damages.
The use of horizontal drilling rigs used by many of these excavators allows
for the burial of their facilities at depths much greater and with more
control than that of pneumatic boring tools.
The difficulty in marking sewer facilities is often encountered with
laterals. Due to the non-conductive material used to construct the pipe
and often a lack of a cleanout, staff charged with locating the
departments facilities are unable to locate the lateral with industry
standard electromagnetic cable/pipe locating equipment. While the GA
dig law addresses this issue and makes exceptions for unloadable sewer
laterals, the code also contains language that attempts to reduce this
problem by addressing installations completed after January 1, 2006. All
sewer laterals installed on or after January 1, 2006, shall be installed in a
manner which will make them locatable by the facility owners or operators

using a generally accepted electronic locating method. In the event that


an un-locatable utility facility or un-locatable sewer lateral becomes
exposed when the facility owner or operator is present or in the case of
sewer laterals when the sewer utility owner or operator is present on or
after January 1, 2006, such facility or sewer lateral shall be made locatable
through the use of a permanent marker of an updating of permanent
records1. The code defines a permanent marker and a cleanout meets
those criteria assuming that the cleanout remains visible. What the code
does not do is define what a generally accepted electronic locating
method. The two basic electronic methods of locating are active and
passive.

Active locating involves searching for a specific line using either


conductive or inductive method.
o Conductive requires connecting directly to the conductor and
placing a selected frequency on that conductor that creates a
field around the outside of the conductive material that can be
picked up by the receiver.
o Inductive requires simply inducing a frequency into the ground
and reradiated by the utility.
Passive locating is a method where an area is searched with a
receiver looking for utilities that radiate or reradiate signals from
other sources such as power or radio frequencies.

Unfortunately many of the laterals in service today do not have


cleanouts installed thus are deemed un-locatable and should be addressed
using the methods outline in 25-9-7. Laterals that require repair have a
cleanout typically installed during the repair process thus bringing these
laterals into compliance. After speaking with the Department of
Watersheds Site Development office, laterals continue to be installed
without means to locate electronically. Not only does this continue to
place our facilities at risk but we are not complaint with the Georgia Dig
Law.
An easy and cost effective way to solve the issue with new lateral
construction would be to require developers and their contractors
installing laterals to use an electronic marking device developed by 3M.
The marking devices are inexpensive cost around 10 dollars apiece and
can be detected by most of the 3M locate equipment already deployed in
the field by the Utility Protection Section staff. The devices require no
special installation requirements other than to be placed in the trench
over the facility at the required depth.
The recommended 3M device is the 4 1403-XR. This device is a 4 inch
sphere constructed of plastic in the APWA color of the specific utility it is
to mark, e.g. sewer makers are green. The device requires no
maintenance as it contains no batteries or active parts. Inside the device
1 25-9-7 Determining whether utility facilities are present; information to the UPC;
noncompliance; future utilities; abandoned facilities, O.C.G.A Title 25, Chapter 9.

is a self-leveling coil that ensures the marker is in an accurate, horizontal


position regardless of how it is placed into the ground. The coil is tuned
to a specific frequency that is specified for the utility it is designed to
mark. The device sits dormant unit activated by a receiver. Once the
receiver is set to locate a specific utility marker, a signal tuned to that
frequency of the specified is emitted from the receiver and activates any
marker in range. Once activated the receiver is used to pinpoint the
location of the marker.
It is recommended that two marking devices be installed per lateral.
One device should be placed on the City side of the cast iron box housing
the cleanout. The device should be placed at a minimum of 4 inches from
the box and at a maximum distance of 12 inches. The devaPlacement at
this location is necessary if the box were to become buried in the future.
marking balls can be placed at a minimum of 4 inches from the cast iron
box housing the cleanout on the city/street side. Another can be placed
above the wye. All marking balls should be placed at a depth typically 3
to 4 feet in depth above the lateral. The presence of marking balls should
be indicated in the field by damage prevention when performing locates to
ensure marking balls are not disturbed during excavation.