Village opts for hydro-excavation to deal with water issues

Service is like microsurgery for close tolerance public works projects

Suck it Up Environmental Services technicians excavate a hole near the Keremeos pool  April 24.

Suck it Up Environmental Services technicians excavate a hole near the Keremeos pool April 24.


Ryan MacClean of Suck it Up Hydro-excavating Services said the company keeps its four trucks busy through work in both the municipal and private sectors.

“We were just in Oliver yesterday, and less recently in Kelowna and West Kelowna,” he said, “we work up and down the valley, and beyond.”

MacClean  said the company, formerly known as “Ray Smith Services”  has a solid reputation, and regularly does work outside the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

Hydroexcavating uses a high pressure (3,000 psi)  stream of water to break up and cut the earth, working adjacent a powerful vacuum that sucks the excavated material into a tank on the truck. Other tanks contain 15,000 gallons of water which is used sparingly (the Keremeos work used approximately 100 gallons) during the operation.

The technology is used by municipalities to rebuild manholes, clean out sewage basins and excavate for mechanical repairs. Private enterprise uses the service to place telephone and hydro poles, suck out catch basins and perform an operation known as “pipe bursting”.

“We have a device that we  attach to an old pipe, which we can then remove and replace with new pipe, without extensive excavation,” MacClean explained. “Fortis and Telus use the service frequently”. MacClean said one of the company’s trucks is currently in Canmore, Alberta, placing four kilometres of pipe, ranging in diameter from 10 to 16 inches.

“It does a pretty neat hole excavation,” MacClean said, “we can make round, square, rectangular – virtually any shape hole, in virtually any soil condition.”

The village hopes to use the technique to clear blockages at either end of the village’s dike.