Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) can provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional methods of installing utility services underground. When done correctly, HDD reduces the environmental footprint of new development, soil contamination, and land disturbance.

However, if not executed carefully, HDD can cause extensive damage to the surrounding environment. To reduce this potential impact it is necessary to minimize land disturbance, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas or when encountering soft soils.

To minimize these obstacles, here are seven ways you can reduce land disturbance during hdd drilling:

Create Clear, Open Communication

To offer timely information and address local interests, issues, and concerns, every HDD company or contractor should establish clear and open communication channels with communities that will be affected by their drilling activities.

There must be appointed community and construction liaisons as points of contact to ensure a strong, two-way information flow with communities, particularly when it comes to project-related questions and complaints.

Minimize Access Roads

If possible, follow the same path utilities used when laying down their utility lines. By minimizing access roads, construction crews can prevent the need to clear additional land for this purpose.

Use Temporary Utilities 

The use of temporary utilities should be considered in areas where there is a high probability that permanent utility lines will need to be replaced or upgraded later on. These temporary alternatives will require less time to install and eliminate the possibility of damaging existing lines.

Implement Cutoff Walls

The next way to minimize land disturbance during HDD construction is by implementing cutoff walls. 

Whenever there is an HDD installation, the soil around the bore site needs to be protected from erosion and sediment release. This is accomplished by using building cutoff walls around where the HDD site will be created, both vertically and horizontally. 

Control And Suppress Dust

During construction, most contractors have crews on hand to maintain access roads and operate dust control systems as needed. On dry, windy days, don’t be surprised to see workers spraying water over dusty roadways to manage dust. Other measures taken to control dust include:

  • Before leaving work sites, clean the equipment.
  • Following equipment crossings, mud, soil debris, and foreign material tracked onto roads are cleaned as soon as possible.
  • Crews re-establish vegetative cover in areas that have been disturbed once the operation is completed.

Minimize Traffic Disruptions

The contractor must develop traffic management methods to reduce traffic and neighbor interruptions, such as keeping construction traffic out of busy hours. Typically, traffic management entails:

  • Developing strategies in collaboration with municipalities and state transportation departments.
  • Incorporating data from traffic counts into traffic management plans.
  • Keeping access open, particularly for emergency vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.
  • Residents and towns must be consulted as part of the development of notification strategies.

Use A Small Diameter Drill Pipe And Casing

Smaller pipes and casings allow for less disturbance during horizontal directional drilling. Smaller drill pipe will also reduce the amount of backfill needed, which means a smaller job site and less material to haul.  In addition, smaller pipes have a lower weight-on-bit than larger pipes, so they can cut down on hdd drilling machine’s wear and tear.