The Major Benefits of Non-destructive Digging or Hydro Excavation

May 25, 2015

Non-Destructive Digging (NDD), also known as hydro excavation, is a low-impact, clean excavation method performed using high pressure air or water to excavate the hole. A specially-designed hose vacuums, or sucks out, the debris into a holding tank for disposal. Water pressure is typically 2000 psi – 10000 psi applied through handguns and debris vectored into a mobile standby tank.

The system efficiently reduces the potential of damaging or destroying underground utilities, thus delaying the project and incurring additional costs for repairs. Non-destructive digging safely excavates, leaving critical infrastructure, such as sewer, gas, and water lines, and power and telecommunication cables intact.

Why Use the NDD / Hydro Excavation Method

Although it is beneficial to professionally locate buried utilities prior to digging, as-built drawings and site utility locates can be misleading or misrepresent the actual utility or, for example, the number and type of pipe underground. Mechanical digging also runs the risk of encountering underground cables and pipes that have been previously damaged or broken and buried during earlier work. Damages can range in the millions of dollars. Non-destructive digging / hydro excavation is much safer than using mechanical methods of excavation.

Hydro excavation may also be used to pothole or expose underground utilities (pipes and cables) prior to proceeding with trenching and construction with minimal damage and little to no disruption of the utility.

Restoring the excavated site is neater and easier after non-destructive digging / hydro excavation is completed. Efficient reclamation makes non-destructive digging / hydro excavation more practical in high traffic areas, such as primary throughways, public sidewalks, and roadways. Faster completion of excavation work minimizes traffic interruptions and surrounding area disruption and reduces overall costs and minimizes delays and disruptions of traffic and the surrounding area.


In addition to identifying, locating, or verifying underground services, reducing operating costs, and minimizing risks of damaging existing buried infrastructure, non-destructive digging / hydro excavation may also be useful in:

  • safety barrier installation,
  • pedestrian management bollards,
  • road sign, power pole, and signal / street light erection and alignment,
  • pre-drilling procedures, and
  • landscape planting and tree removal and remediation.

Added Benefits

In addition to minimizing risk, additional cost, and time, benefits of using the non-destructive digging / hydro excavation method include:

  • implementing a controlled process and operation,
  • conducting a high precision operation,
  • minimal remediation costs (backfilling on what has been removed)
  • in many cases not having to disturb, damage, or replace footpaths, roads, curbs and gutters, or surface drains,.
  • reduced operator costs,
  • fewer crew members needed and the crew time is reduced,
  • reduced need for, and man hours to undertake manual spot digging,
  • less impact on the environment,
  • less chance to damage adjacent landscaping, trees / tree roots, or sensitive environmental and protected areas,
  • less critical importance to know exact depth, location, direction, types, and routes of existing pipes, cables, and other buried infrastructure,
  • more accurate and efficient trenching operations, and
  • less site impact (compared with heavy equipment operations).

It is risky to continue to use mechanical digging and trenching methods in today’s more congested construction, development, overdeveloped, and environmentally sensitive areas. Implementing the non-destructive digging / hydro excavation method (essentially a larger potholing operation) just makes more sense, completes the work faster, requires less manpower, and significantly minimizes costs associated with damages and slowdown to complete repairs.

Apex Vacuum Gutter Cleaning
Diamond Creek, Victoria, 3089

Alasdair Collis
Ph: 0410 614 924
Fax: 03 9438 2743

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