Access to clean, safe drinking water is critical for communities. Portable water lines are often used to provide temporary water supplies during emergencies or construction projects. Properly marking the location of these temporary water lines is crucial to avoid accidental damage and disruption of water service.
Importance of Proper Water Line Marking
Portable water lines are buried underground and therefore not visible. Marking their location is important for the following reasons:
- Prevent third-party damage: Markers alert excavators and other workers to the presence of buried lines so they can avoid digging in those areas.
- Facilitate necessary repairs: If a line requires maintenance, markers make it easier to pinpoint the location and dig efficiently.
- Avoid service interruptions: Hitting an unmarked line can lead to ruptures and water supply disruptions, which can be dangerous and costly.
- Limit liability: Proper marking shows utilities have taken reasonable care to prevent accidents and property damage.
Standards for Marking Portable Water Lines
In the United States, the American Public Works Association (APWA) has established a uniform color coding system for marking underground utilities. This system provides guidelines on what color should be used to mark different utility types.
For portable water lines, the APWA recommendations are as follows:
- Marking color: Blue
- Marking patterns: Solid lines, dashes, dots
- Marking width: 2-4 inches
Using blue as the standard color for drinking water lines enables workers and excavators in all regions to readily identify these important assets. The width and patterns of the markings can vary provided the color remains blue.
Methods of Marking Portable Water Lines
There are several methods available for marking the location of portable water lines:
Line Marking Paint
- Bright blue paint is directly applied above the buried line.
- Fast, inexpensive way to mark lines.
- Paint may fade over time and require touch ups.
Flags and Markers
- Blue flags or flexible markers placed intermittently along line route.
- Can be installed quickly without specialized tools.
- Susceptible to dislodging and damage.
Electronic Marker Devices
- Buried devices emit signals to locate lines electronically.
- Provides accuracy benefits over visual markers.
- Higher upfront cost to purchase and install devices.
|Line Marking Paint
|– Fast application
– Low cost
|– Fades over time
– Requires touch ups
|– Quick to install
– Simple visual aids
|– Can dislodge
– Less permanent
|– High accuracy
– No visual fading
|– High upfront cost
– Specialized installation
The optimal marking solution depends on factors like project duration, soil conditions, accuracy needs and budget. Using a combination of methods can provide both visual markings and electronic detection.
Responsibility for Marking Portable Water Lines
The organization that owns or operates the portable water line is responsible for properly marking its location. This includes:
- Installing line markers during construction as the line is buried.
- Conducting periodic inspections and touch ups to maintain marker visibility.
- Providing line location data to utilities and excavators per state laws.
- Ensuring old markers are removed after lines are permanently abandoned.
Most states have “call before you dig” laws requiring excavators to request utility line locations through a one call center before starting any digging work. Owners must respond within 2-3 days with line marking assistance.
Locating Marked Portable Water Lines
When portable water line markers are properly installed using blue as the designated color, the lines can easily be located prior to excavation or repairs. Steps include:
- Reviewing maps and installation records to understand general line routes.
- Visually looking for blue marking paint, flags or tracks aboveground.
- Using a pipe locator to detect electronic marker signals.
- Digging carefully by hand once lines are approximated.
Following these steps and properly exposing lines before mechanical digging protects worker safety and prevents costly line ruptures. Patience is key – accurately locating lines takes time but prevents much larger issues.
Case Study: Temporary Water Supply for Construction Project
Here is an example covering the process of installing and marking a temporary water line for a major construction project:
- 500 unit apartment complex under construction in Dallas, TX.
- 18 month project timeline.
- Needed temporary water supply for construction until permanent utilities installed.
Temporary Water Line
- 3,200 ft long, 6 inch diameter polyethylene line.
- Connection point to municipal water system identified.
- Line buried 5 feet deep along predetermined route through site.
- Above ground hydrants placed every 500 ft for water access points.
Line Marking Process
- Solid blue paint lines marked along entire line route 10 ft above buried pipe.
- Blue flags placed every 5 ft for increased visibility.
- Route data provided to Texas 811 utility marking service.
- Plans distributed to all subcontractors noting line location and restrictions.
The combination of robust visual markings and communication of line data proved effective. The line was utilized for the duration of the project with no accidental digging damage incidents. The blue markings provided valuable protection for a critical temporary utility.
- Portable water lines should be marked using blue paint, flags or electronic markers per APWA standards.
- Marking provides visual indicators to avoid digging damage to buried lines.
- The line owner is responsible for installation and maintenance of markers.
- Excavators should always confirm marked line locations before digging.
- Patience and care is required to accurately locate lines and prevent safety issues.
Properly marking temporary water lines prevents utility disruptions and limits safety hazards on busy job sites. Following designated color coding standards ensures markings are clear to all workers involved. Taking steps to protect portable water infrastructure demonstrates prudence and care for critical community needs.