Kokomo, Ind.'s wastewater department uses the Schonstedt XT512 locator several times a week, with a sonde, to precisely locate pipe made of vitreous clay and other nonmetallic materials.

The locator is also used when the plat books are obviously inaccurate. The line is located to the outfall, measured, and the information is passed to the engineering department and incorporated into the city's GIS and new editions of the plat books.

The locator has a clear interface and few controls. Five minutes of instruction from the product sales representative was enough to get started.

Ten employees are trained to keep track of the locator, make sure it's working properly, and monitor its battery. “Battery life is pretty good, and the locator will last all day, but I like to remove the batteries when we're not using the sonde to make sure it's charged when we need it.”

To complement the sonde system, Winchester also bought a GA-92XT extendable magnetic locator from Schonstedt. “Another problem with the plat book,” he says, “is that there are a lot of buried manholes, and the book isn't accurate enough for easy location. So we use the magnetic locator, which pinpoints the manhole, and gives us a good idea of how big and how deep it is. When the locator meter peaks, we know we're right over it.”

Utility location is just a small part of the work done by water and wastewater agencies. But it's often vexing, and if it's done wrong the costs and lost time can be expensive. By finding the right technology, the Kokomo Wastewater Department also found a way to do this critical task with greater speed, accuracy, and assurance.

— Angus Stocking is a licensed land surveyor and freelance writer specializing in geospatial infrastructure.

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