What is Hydro-Excavation?

Hydro-excavation is a non-mechanical, non-destructive method of excavating that uses pressurized water and industrial-strength vacuum to simultaneously excavate and remove soil. This process safely breaks up soil, the soil and water slurry are conveyed by vacuum to a debris tank.

Instead of manual or mechanical digging methods, hydro-excavation uses water to break up soil, which virtually eliminates any risk of underground utility damage. The process results in safe, fast, precise excavations that require less backfill, labor, restoration, and has less environmental impact than traditional excavation techniques.

Hydro-Excavation at Work:

  • Potholing/Daylighting
  • Slot Trenching
  • Debris Removal
  • Exposing Utilities
  • Piling Hole Excavation
  • Cold Weather Digging
  • Remote Digging


Excavating or exposing underground utilities using hydro-excavation is called potholing or daylighting. Since hydro-excavation is a non-mechanical, non-destructive process, it enables underground utilities to be exposed without the risks inherent in traditional manual or mechanical excavation methods. Potholing is also a time and cost-saving digging method for the installation of signs, telephone poles, fences and the like.

Slot Trenching

Digging narrow trenches for installing pipes, cables or other in-ground utilities is called slot trenching. Unlike traditional slot trenchers, which can cause serious and costly damage, hydro-excavation provides a non-destructive and efficient slot trenching method even on frozen surfaces. Hydro-excavation makes it easy and safe to install underground pipes, locate underground pipe systems, cables and utilities, and perform similar installations without the risk of damaging previously installed systems or lines.

Exposing Utilities

Since hydro-excavation uses water to break up the ground and vacuum up debris, it is the safest and most efficient method of exposing underground utilities. It eliminates the risk of damaging buried utilities. Using hydro-excavation to expose utilities, which is called potholing or daylighting, ensures that the surrounding material is undisturbed.

Piling Hole Excavation

With hydro-excavation’s precision, it is ideal for piling hole excavation. Underground utilities that may be uncovered during excavation are not harmed in contrast to the high risk of damage that exists with using manual digging methods.

Remote Digging

When oil and gas pipelines, electric cables, conduit, flow lines or buried structures need to be repaired or excavation needs to be done in tight spaces or congested, hydro-excavation equipment can be located away from the actual excavation site. This minimizes the impact and restoration requirements to the actual site and eliminates congestion and inconvenience.


Our 130 bbl. vac trucks are equipped with over-sized 4-inch vacuum pumps, 4-inch hoses and 4-inch ball valves ball valves which load and unload in half the time of our competition, which largely use 3-inch vacuum pumps and hoses and 3-inch butterfly valves, which easily get clogged. You will love the speed, safety and cost-savings our vacuum services offer.


Looking for a position as a driver, mechanic, shop hand, dispatcher, pusher, admin/billing, compliance or safety? Contact Emco for more information.


Emco provides removal and disposal of your liquid or solid drilling cuttings from your drilling locations 24/7/365. Our 32-34 ft steel end dump trailers haul up to 16 yards per load and are reliably hauled by our late model sleeper cab trucks.