Frequently Asked Questions
Is it mandatory to place a locate request with the Utility Safety Partners system?
It is mandatory that the locations of all buried utilities be marked before a ground disturbance begins. This is required by the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code, the Alberta Electrical Utility Code, the Canada Energy Regulator’s Damage Prevention Regulations and the Alberta Pipeline Regulation. The best way to accomplish this is by requesting a locate through Utility Safety Partners.
For more information, see the OHS Explanation Guide.
Are all buried utilities registered through Utility Safety Partners?
Most, but not all, utility owners are registered with Utility Safety Partners.
Other sources of information on buried utilities that may be at the site of a proposed ground disturbance include:
- Signs or markers in the area.
- Alberta Energy Regulator (high-pressure pipeline records).
- Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Rural Utilities Branch (low pressure gas distribution pipeline records).
- Land Titles Office (certificates of title) to determine if a right of way, easement or caveat is registered against the property.
- Local landowners or occupants.
- Visual evidence of cut lines, changes in vegetation, land depression or scarring, buildings or existing surface utilities.
What if my work area is on private property?
If you are working on private property, you should make plans for locating privately owned and customer owned buried utilities. This is in addition to locating any utilities owned by Utility Safety Partners’ members. It may be necessary for you or the property owner to hire a contract locator to identify and mark the locations of privately owned and customer owned buried utilities.
Why don’t the locators mark ALL of my utilities?
Most, but not all, utility owners have registered their lines with Utility Safety Partners. There may be utilities on your property that we are unaware of.
The utility owners and their locators are unable to mark:
- Privately installed lines (e.g. power from your house to your garage).
- Secondary lines (e.g. electrical lines past the meter).
- Customer-owned utilities (e.g. water and sewer lines are the responsibility of the property owner past the shut-off valve at the property line).
The utility company does not own these lines and therefore does not have any information about their location. In some areas, some utility owners may charge to mark these lines.
How do I know what other lines may be buried on my property?
Sources of information that may help you identify whether there are buried utilities at the site of a proposed ground disturbance include:
- Considering what services you use and if those utilities have been notified by Utility Safety Partners (e.g. gas, power, water, phone, cable).
- Land Titles: Check certificates of title to determine if a right of way, easement or caveat is registered against the property.
- Local landowners or previous occupants.
How do I get the rest of my utilities marked?
There are several locate service providers in Alberta who can perform secondary utility locates for a fee. A list of some of these locate service providers can be found here.
What if I need locates sooner than three full working days?
Emergency or Priority locate requests can be placed by calling 1-800-242-3447. To make an Emergency or Priority request, you must be digging to perform a repair to correct a condition that poses an immediate threat to life, health or property – including repair of essential services such as water, power, phone or gas.
If you require locates sooner than three full working days because your request was not placed in time, the utility owners and their locators will not likely be able to accommodate you any earlier than three full working days due to the volume of requests they are processing.
Do I have to be home to meet the locators?
No. Locators will mark your property when they are in the area and will leave documentation on site to explain the markings.
Exceptions: You may be required to meet with the locators if there is restricted access to the yard or the meter (e.g. a locked gate), if there is a dog in the yard or if you live in a multiple unit dwelling.
Can I request a specific time to meet the locators?
We will make a note of your preference on your Ticket. However, it is up to individual utility owners and their locators to accommodate these special requests subject to their own availability.
What if I need to make changes to my locate request?
You can make edits to your existing ticket online by selecting the ticket from your History, then selecting Ticket Edit. This will cancel the original ticket and issue a new ticket number with the updated information.
You can also email us at [email protected] or call us at 1 800-242-3447.
Be ready with your Ticket Number and new information to provide to the Damage Prevention Associate who answers.
Why should I premark the work area with white paint?
White flags, stakes or paint may be used to provide the locators with an accurate understanding of the extent of the proposed ground disturbance. Paint marks on roadways should not exceed 40 mm x 450 mm, but should be close enough together to clearly define the limits of the site. In winter conditions, black or black and white markings are more appropriate colour choices.
In some cases, pre-marking the dig site may eliminate the need for you to meet with the locator and can result in locates being completed sooner than waiting for a scheduled meet.
It has been three full working days and I have not had a response to my locate request. Can I begin the excavation?
No. If a member of Utility Safety Partners has been notified of a locate request and has not contacted you after the required advance notice period has passed, or has failed to mark the locations of buried utilities as arranged, you can send a Reminder to the utility owner online. Select the ticket from your History, then select “Positive Response.” Check the box beside the name of the utility that has not responded, then click “Send Reminder.” The utility owner or their locator will receive a message that you are still waiting for their response for that ticket.
Alternatively, you can contact us at [email protected] or 1 800-242-3447. We will remind the utility owner on your behalf. We can also escalate the reminder process if you have sent more than one Reminder and have not had a response in 24 hours since your last Reminder was sent.
If the utility operator is not registered with Utility Safety Partners, contact them directly.
Will I incur charges for locating services requested through Utility Safety Partners?
As a rule, the operators of buried utilities do not charge for identifying and marking the locations of their buried utilities. However, should your schedule require that locates (excluding Emergency Locate requests) be done outside normal working hours, there may be a charge to cover the cost of overtime.
Excavators that abuse the Damage Prevention Process by placing frequent requests for locates where no ground disturbance is taking place, or is planned within the 30 day lifespan of locates, may incur charges from the operators of the buried utilities.
Most utility operators do charge for locating customer-owned utilities.
How long are locates valid for?
The locate documentation provided by the utility owners or their locators indicates when the locate expires. If ground disturbance will continue past the expiry date, you should request a relocate ticket.
To request a relocate ticket, select the ticket from your History, then select “Relocate”. The relocate ticket will reference the original ticket so the utility owners or their locators can respond accordingly.
Check out the Damage Prevention Process in Alberta document for more detailed information about the lifespan of locates.
Does Utility Safety Partners issue permits or crossing agreements?
No. If the ground disturbance is to take place within a public road allowance, provincial highway right-of-way or utility right-of-way, the ground disturber may be required to obtain an excavation permit or written permission from the utility owners before disturbing the ground. If the ground disturbance is to install new utilities, line assignments may have to be obtained from the authority having jurisdiction over the right-of-way, prior to construction.
How can I get an underground utility line, meter box or Pedestal box moved or relocated?
Contact the customer service department of your service provider. To avoid confusion, request to have these items MOVED not relocated.
Where can I find more information about safe digging practices?
Visit our Learning Centre for more information.