Locating pipelines

Everything you need to know about locating our pipelines and other infrastructure before starting works.

It is essential to be aware of the location of all underground infrastructure before starting work. Common activities that can damage our pipelines are:

  • constructing a bore
  • building a structure such as a building, dam or water tank
  • removal of large trees
  • earthworks
  • installation of ground anchors.

How to locate pipelines

You can order e-plans showing our water, wastewater and drainage mains through BuilderNet, our online self-service system.

E-plans show the approximate horizontal location of most buried water, sewerage and drainage pipelines, but the they do not show pipeline depth.

Individual services to properties are not usually shown, however their existence should be assumed. Some properties, such as hospitals may have more than one sewer or water service.

Order your e-plan now

Other ways to locate pipelines

In addition to using e-plans, a number of other methods to locate our pipelines are outlined below. In some situations, such as excavation or boring works, you will need to physically confirm the location of pipelines by potholing, before starting work.

The technique of locating buried pipes by careful hand digging trial holes or using other “soft dig” techniques, such as vacuum excavation.

Potholing is the only way of determining pipeline location with certainty and is used in addition to e-plans or other locating methods.

Requirements
  • Potholing must be used before any machine excavation commences.
  • Should be undertaken along the route of the proposed excavation to identify the path of nearby pipelines (and other utilities) and their depth. The amount of potholing required will depend on the risks, the excavation route and the density of assets in the area.

  • Must be undertaken with reference to plans and other information we provide. A risk assessment may be required before potholing commences.

  • Where the installation of a service, whether by open excavation or trenchless methods, crosses a pipeline each crossing point must be potholed.

  • For trenchless excavations the pothole must extend deep enough to visually see the boring tool just prior to it going over or underneath the pipeline. Minimum clearances must be observed.

  • For excavations parallel to a pipeline, pothole at 5m intervals to verify location as alignments can vary.

Visual indicators at the site may indicate the existence of underground facilities. Typical surface indicators are:

  • buildings
  • cathodic protection test points
  • electrical cabinets
  • inspection covers
  • manhole covers
  • pits
  • signs, markers, tags
  • valve covers
  • water sampling points.

We can help to locate assets onsite and will usually need 5 days notice to schedule a site visit. Please note, charges apply for this service.

For more information or arrange a site visit please call 13 13 75.

Independent locating services can conduct site surveys and locate buried pipelines and other utilities.

These services have various methods and tools for locating assets, such as electronic detection and vacuum excavation equipment.

You can find location services in the Yellow Pages, listed under Underground Service Locaters.

Protecting pipelines

protecting pipelines icon

Protecting pipelines

Find out how to protect our pipelines during construction.

Find out more

Building near sewers

Building near sewers

Building near sewers

Our guidelines for construction works near a sewer line.

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