Wet and Dry Utility Planning During Site Development

Wet and dry utility planning is a crucial part of site development. As it implies, the process involves the design and installation of various systems that provide water, gas, electricity and other core services to whatever’s being developed on the land. 

Coordinating these utilities is critical in ensuring they both meet code and align with the progress of the overall site plan. This can include identifying the location of utility lines and infrastructure, coordinating with utility companies and designing systems to minimize the environmental impact of their installation.

Here’s a quick breakdown of wet and dry utility planning, and what goes into the process before the utilities themselves go into the site. 

Wet vs. Dry Utilities

“Wet” and “dry” are terms used to describe two types of utilities. As you might imagine, they’re so-named based on the resource they deal with:

  • Wet utilities are systems that involve the use of water, such as plumbing, irrigation and stormwater management. These systems are used to bring water into a building, distribute it throughout the building, and then collect and dispose of wastewater. Examples of wet utility systems include potable water supply, sanitary sewer and storm sewer systems.
  • Dry utilities include electrical, telecommunications and natural gas systems. These systems bring power, communication and fuel into a building, distribute it throughout and dispose of waste. Examples of dry utility systems include electrical power, natural gas, telephone and cable.

It’s important to have consideration and coordination between these systems during the construction and development process to avoid conflicts and ensure the appropriate function of the final product.

Extensive Consideration for Wet Utilities

Wet utility planning is a critical aspect of site development and construction. It’s an extensive process to guarantee that the systems are safely and correctly laid in place. Here is a brief overview of the steps involved in installing wet utility systems:

  1. Conduct a site assessment to identify the location of existing utility lines and infrastructure, as well as any environmental or site-specific considerations that may impact the design of the systems.
  2. Design of the wet utility system typically includes developing detailed maps and specifications for the systems, including the location of water supply and sewage lines, the size and capacity of the systems, and any necessary connections to existing utility lines. The design must also consider any local, state or federal codes and regulations that apply to wet utility systems.
  3. Monitor the installation of the wet utility systems. Close observation is crucial to verify it’s done correctly and meets the design’s specifications and requirements. This can include testing the systems and regular inspections to check that they’re functioning correctly.

Site Logistics for Dry Utilities

Dry utility planning is straightforward compared to wet utility planning. That said, coordination among the different utilities is key, as they all share the same underground space and need to be placed in a way that won’t interfere with each other’s function. This is where the expertise of a professional engineer or a dry utility specialist comes in to inspect that the systems are designed and installed properly, and are up to code. 

Here is what’s involved in dry utility planning and installation:

  • Conduct a site assessment
  • Design the systems
  • Obtain permits and approvals
  • Coordinate with other utilities
  • Install the dry utility lines and structures
  • Test and inspect all systems to verify that they work properly
  • Commission of ownership (when turned over to the property owner or developer)

How Utility Planning is Essential to Site Development

One of the main reasons why utility planning is so critical is that it must be done early in the development process, as the location and design of the utility systems can have a major impact on the layout and design of the site. 

For example, the location of water and sewage lines can impact the location of buildings and other structures, and the design of the electrical and natural gas systems can affect the energy efficiency of the development.

Additionally, utility planning also includes locating existing utilities that might be part of the site already, as seen in redevelopments or broken lots. This is vital to make sure that the new development does not interfere with existing utility systems and that installers can adequately integrate the existing systems into the new construction site.

Utilities Planning Requires a Concerted Approach

Utility planning is a critical aspect of site development, as it lays the foundation for the rest of the project. It’s essential for the functioning of any building or development. A project manager must organize all involved parties in the coordination and execution of this process. 

A joint approach to utilities is important because it helps to confirm that all the relevant stakeholders are working together towards a common goal and that the utility systems have thoughtful design and installation. This approach also helps minimize the development’s environmental impact by designing practical water and sewage systems and properly managing stormwater, among other important considerations.