After rough grading has been completed as explained in the previous installment of this article series Land Development – Part Two – Rough Grading, the next important step in the land development process is handling the wet utilities.

Land developers install wet utilities before any other sitework is completed as these components must be put underground.

Consisting of sewers, storm drains, and water lines that will connect the building site to public utilities, contractors must finalize this part of the process to make way for the installation of dry above-ground utilities.

Sewer Mainline and Lateral Connections

The sewer mainline is the large pipeline that originates at the building site on the construction pad and leads all the way to the public sewer mainline that moves wastewater to the local treatment plant.

Made of either green polyvinyl chloride PVC or vitrified clay pipe VPC, these pipelines are the first installed by land developers as they are set deeper into the ground apart from the other wet utilities as a protective measure.

They are either gravity fed if there is enough incline to the surrounding land or pump run on flatter plots, buried in a surrounding of small gravel, then backfilled with soil which is then graded again according to the plot plan.

Once the main is installed, contractors will next install lateral lines that will reach to the structures eventually being built on the plot.

Storm Drain Planning and Installation

Without proper drainage, any building lot or the building constructed on it could suffer from catastrophic damage due to pooling water or saturated soil.

To prevent that from happening, land developers will install storm drains and catch basins in key areas to drain water away from building pads and to the sewers via large drain pipes made of reinforced concrete, corrugated plastic or metal, or high-density polyethylene/HDPE.

It’s a process that involves much planning between land development contractors and wet utility experts to ensure systems are placed where they will be effective and then careful installed to rest above the sewer mainline but deep enough to remain protected and effective.

Water Mainline and Lateral Connections

Lastly, a land development company will put in the final underground wet utility which is the water mainline.

This PVC line is installed shallowest of the three so there’s no chance for either drainage water or wastewater to seep into the clean water mainline.

Part of this installation includes the addition by a land development company of fire hydrants and backflow preventers as well as blowoff valves to release air in the system and keep water flowing.

Like the sewer laterals that are eventually connected to the plumbing system exiting the structure to be built on the plot, water lateral lines go from the water main to the structures where they are connected into the internal water lines to access clean water.

Proper Planning and Installation of Wet Utilities

When thinking about land development, it’s easy to assume such a process involves little more than making a graded site where construction companies can build.

In actuality, land development contractors do much more in planning wet utilities with utility experts, then executing the installation from the building site to utility main systems in the ground.

Once the installation of wet utilities is complete, land development companies can then move on to install dry utilities as accounted in Part Four of this article series: Land Development – Part Four – Dry Utilities.

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Land Development Series:


Land Development Series:

Land Development – Part One – Overview
Land Development – Part Two – Rough Grading
Land Development – Part Three – Web Utilities
Land Development – Part Four – Dry Utilities
Land Development – Part Five – Fencing
Land Development – Part Six – Finish Grading
Land Development – Part Seven – Flatwork
Land Development – Part Eight – Landscaping