Locating pipelines

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

Before you start any work, it's essential to be aware of the location of all underground pipelines are located. Pipes are often damaged during:

  • the installation of a bore
  • building of structures like a building, dam or water tank
  • large tree removal
  • earthworks
  • installation of ground anchors.

How to locate pipelines

You can easily access plans from Dial Before You Dig. This is a free service.

You can also order e-plans to find the location of 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.

Individual services to properties are not usually shown, however their existence should be assumed.

Order your e-plan now

Other ways to locate pipelines

In addition to using plans to locate our pipelines, a number of other methods are outlined below.

In some situations, such as excavation or boring works, you will need to physically confirm the location of pipelines before starting work. This is done by potholing.

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.

  • 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.

More information

Protecting pipelines

protecting pipelines icon

Protecting pipelines

Find out how to protect our pipelines during construction.

Find out more

Avoiding hazards

avoiding hazards icon

Avoiding hazards

Use our guidelines to help you avoid hazardous situations that can damage our pipelines during construction works.

Survey requirements

Building near sewers

Survey requirements

Find out about our survey requirements if you are building near a sewer line.

Find out more
You may also be interested in

Interpreting our plans

Find out how to read an e-plan
rolls of blueprints

Stay safe and prevent damage

Read our guidelines for working near pipelines
water spraying

Selecting the right tree or shrub

Use our guide
to protect
your sewer pipes
Native plant