Buried Pipeline
& Utility Locating Services


Its safe digging month, so we want to share some facts about line locating, ground disturbance and what 3-D Line Locating can do for your next project.

Whether the projects are large scale, or simply digging out a new garden or putting up a fence, everyone is required to Click Before You Dig.

Ground Disturbance, that is, any work, operation or activity that results in a disturbance of the earth, requires that you contact a One-Call center in order to learn what utilities are buried in your dig site. Common utilities are pipelines, power-lines, natural gas lines, sewage and water lines, internet and TV lines.

Some utilities are buried less than 60cm deep. Disturbance protocol states that when digging to a depth of more than 30cm a one call ticket should be placed and the utilities should be located prior to excavating.

FAQ’s About Line Locating

Q.  What does OSHA / OH&S require before any ground disturbance takes place?

A.  Whether the ground disturbance is to take place on public or private land, the Alberta Occupational Safety & Health Code and B.C. Regulations require that ALL buried facilities potentially in conflict with the ground  disturbance be identified & their horizontal alignments marked out before the ground disturbance begins. The requirement to have the locations of ALL buried facilities marked applies to the ENTIRE digging community, NOT just contractors. Making arrangements to have locates done should be part of the job planning process, big or small.

Q.  Does 3-D Line Locating only perform utility locating services?

A.  No. 3-D Line Locating provides a wide variety of services including but not limited to underground utility locating services. Our Services are; Environmental Locating Services,  Major Project Locating/Mainline Pipeline Sweeping,  One Call Ticket Management and Locate Response,  Lease Site, Battery, and Satellite Locating Specialists, AND, Ground Disturbance Management/CoordinationIntegrity and GIS.

Q.  Why should I always make arrangements for a 3rd party sweep before digging?

A.  Although the one call service is effective for locating licensed, primary utilities, there is a large network of private or secondary infrastructure that is not covered by the  One Call system. These facilities are equally as dangerous to contact as their primary counterparts. A 3rd party sweep covers this gap and provides you the peace of mind knowing you have done your “due diligence”.

Q.  How is 3-D Line Locating able to locate underground facilities?

A.  We use a combination of specialized equipment combined with certified and competent technicians working in teams of 2. The equipment we use applies an electromagnetic frequency or “signal” by induction or by direct connect method to an insulated conductor (pipe or cable) with the transmitter and detects the frequency radiating from the conductor with the receiver.

Q.  What is the difference between a primary and secondary underground line?

A.  Primary lines are utility owned and a member or contractor of the utility company will come and locate those lines. These include any utility line running up to and before the meter, main connect or primary disconnect point. Any lines that are not the primary feeds that may run from a house or business to service another building or area is secondary and is customer owned. Those lines will not be marked by a utility company and are the responsibility of the owner. Sometimes this even includes the main power feed to your home or business. Another great reason to get a 3rd party sweep performed.

Q.  What do the marker colors mean?

A.  Utility marker colors are based on an international standard which all utility locators need to comply with.

Q.  How long are the marks good for after a locate has been completed?

A.  Locate marks are typically good for up to 14 days and subject to conditions. Always look at the locating documents for expiry dates, talk to the contractor, or contact one call services directly for more information on the time frame for your specific project, buried facilities and province.

Q.  Can you locate plastic lines?

A.  If a plastic line has a tracer wire then it can be located using our specialized locating techniques. If there is no tracer wire, we are still able to locate plastic lines in some instances using highly advanced utility detection methods.

Q.  How and why is a sweep or scan performed?

A.  A sweep or scan is a two man process that involves using a transmitter and a receiver to find locatable underground utilities whether operating or abandoned in a specified dig or “work” area and is performed in a multi angle grid pattern. This process has an advantage over basic methods as it does not require direct access to the utility and can detect utilities cut off at both ends. For your safety 3-D Line Locating strongly recommends having this done to completely satisfy stringent Ground Disturbance Requirements. Even the ground disturbance work done in your backyard is governed by Provincial and Federal laws surrounding safe digging procedures.

Q.  I have seen other locators, performing locates without doing a sweep or using a transmitter, why do I need 2 people?

A.  What you probably witnessed was someone using passive locating methods which have a large margin of error as the “target” line is never established. They are merely detecting “a signal” and not “the signal”. While this is a form of line locating, there is a very large possibility of mis-locates or completely missed lines all together.

3-D Line Locating Ltd is a privately owned Buried Pipeline and Utility Locating, Ground Disturbance Management and SCT Services company. For over 20 years, we have been at the forefront of the Damage Prevention industry in Western Canada. Although the industry has changed significantly over the last 20 years, we have been very fortunate to have been at the leading edge of the evolution and still maintain the highest levels of quality, accuracy, consistency and customer satisfaction in our industry.

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