Posted on 14 April 2019

How do you locate underground utilities?

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Vacuum Excavation is a safe way to expose utilities for repairs.

Utilities like gas, electricity, water and sewage are critical parts of our national infrastructure and are relied upon to sustain our standards of living. These assets require routine care and maintenance, though the act of locating them proves to be a technical process requiring modern radar technology and utility locating expertise.

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How do you locate underground utilities?

In New Zealand, underground utilities are located with modern radar technology, which utilises a variety of innovative equipment and gadgets to scan for subsurface utility lines (which are found under highways, parks, footpaths and roads) and create a report of their specific location. This enables excavators to know exactly where to dig and significantly reduce the risk of a line strike (when a utility line is struck during excavation).


Depending on the terrain and project goal, there are a variety of ways to locate underground utilities. Some of these technologies include Latro and PaveScout. For small projects involving utilities buried under footpaths, driveways and roads, Latro is a popular choice. Latro is a push-cart subsurface reality capture solution developed locally, in technical terms it is a 3D GPR system utilising Noise-Modulated GPR (NM-GPR). For projects that require extensive distance scanning of utilities underneath roadways and highways, PaveScout is a popular option. It is a vehicle-mounted system used to measure pavement surface characteristics. It also incorporates high-definition imaging and a photometric stereo system to enable it to produce highly-detailed shadow-free images and gradient maps of the road surface.


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Ground Penetrating Radar is the safest way to find utilities.

What are underground utilities?

Underground utilities are pipes and cabling that are buried underground and responsible for the transit of public utilities like water, sewage, gas, and electricity. They are almost everywhere, under your backyard, under footpaths, roadways, parks, and even the floors of lakes, rivers and oceans.

Why is locating underground utilities important?

Underground utility lines degrade over time and often take on damage due to environmental stresses, which means they need to be routinely assessed and repaired. The challenge with this task is locating the utilities, the suspected damage, and then actually exposing and getting access to the utility, as the utility line will typically be buried under dirt, cement or asphalt. In light of this, modern innovations like radar location services and non-destructive digging enable companies like us to locate utilities and safely expose them.

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Use vacuum excavation to mitigate excavation risks and costs.

Contact us on 0508 822 834 today!

How can we help?


We offer extensive non-destructive digging services to suit almost any project across New Zealand. If you have a project that requires services like hydro excavation, non-destructive digging or soil transfer, contact us today on 0508 822 834!

Contact Vac-U-Digga NZ today to arrange a personalised obligation-free quote.

Vac-U-Digga NZ is proud to be part of the Christchurch Rebuild Program and to be engaged on the delivery of the high-speed Ultra Fast Broadband and other major projects across New Zealand.

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