Damage prevention

Prevent damage to pipelines

CER regulations apply to any activity that disturbs the soil near federally regulated pipelines.

Everyone is responsible for preventing damage to pipelines. To be safe near a pipeline:

  • Learn where the pipelines are in your area: look for marker signs and check land records for easements.
  • Go to Click Before You Dig or call a one-call notification service in your area to have a technician mark the exact location of buried pipes and cables.
  • Plan ahead. It takes time to get pipelines located and to get consent from the pipeline company if needed.

Who this is for

Click the images below to visit the pages.

Landowners icon over top of an image depicting aerial view
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This page is for: landowners (residential and commercial), residents, lease holders, Indigenous rights holders, and any others with property rights near pipelines.

Activities: digging, trenching, fencing, tree planting, operating vehicles, building structures.

Agriculture icon over top of an image depicting soybean field at sunset
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This page is for: farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, tree farmers, sod growers, landscapers, orchardists, vineyard operators, and other agricultural producers.

Activities: deep tillage, tilling, laser-levelling, sub-soiling, building fences, installing irrigation.

Government Agencies icon over top of an image depicting CER headquarters in Calgary
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This page is for municipalities, counties, Indigenous governing bodies, and any other local, provincial, or federal agencies

Activities: road building, trenching, ditching, fencing, building water and sewage utilities, tree planting, drainage projects, ploughed-in pipe, horizontal directional drilling, approving large construction projects

Contractors icon over top of an image depicting a dug trench ready for the installation of pipelines
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This page is for any company, contractor or person working near a pipeline.

Activities: excavation, fencing, augering, ploughed in pipe, and horizontal directional drilling.

Icon over top of an image depicting a crawler crane with side boom installing pipeline into dug trench
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This page is for federally regulated pipeline companies.

Regulations, Guidance Notes, and links to full regulations are on this page.

Working in the prescribed area: what you need to know

Right pf way – Pipelines where you live and work

Prescribed Area Description

The prescribed area is a requirement in regulations prescribing an area for the purposes of safety and security. This area requires extra precaution, communication, and consent from the pipeline company for some activities.

It is measured 30 m outward on both sides from the centreline of the pipe. If there is more than one pipeline in the right-of-way, the prescribed area is measured from the outermost pipelines on each side.

Activities and equipment in the prescribed area are regulated for safety, and to prevent contact with and damage to the pipe.

Working within the prescribed area

You must get written consent from the pipeline company for:

  1. any activity that digs 30 cm or deeper within the prescribed area
  2. cultivation to a depth of 45 cm or deeper (examples this applies to are on the agriculture page)

The pipeline company has to make sure that the activities won’t damage the pipe. If the pipeline company consents to your activities, they must give you the information to do your activities safely. You need this information for your own safety, and the safety of the public and the environment.

Note: if the pipeline company does not consent to your activities, you can get help from the CER. For details, see agreeing to activities and costs.

Right-of-way description

The right-of-way is the strip of land for which a company has obtained the right to construct and operate a pipeline. The width of the right-of-way varies according to the size, routing and number of pipelines. The area of the right-of-way is usually smaller than the prescribed area.

Working within the right-of-way

When your activity is closer to the pipeline, there are more safety requirements. Within the right-of-way, you must get the pipeline company’s written consent before you dig or build anything, such as an outbuilding, fence, or even a sandbox.

You must get written consent from the pipeline company authorizing the following within the right-of-way:

  1. any activity that digs 30 cm or deeper (applies in the prescribed area as well as the ROW)
  2. cultivation to a depth of 45 cm or deeper (examples this applies to are on the agriculture page)
  3. building anything
  4. driving vehicles or mobile equipment off of a road way, over a pipeline
  5. placing or storing anything on the right-of-way, including a berm, wood pile, or a parked vehicle
More details about the prescribed area...

The depth of soil cover over the pipeline can be shallower in some places than others. This can be caused by issues like compaction, activities, soil removal, ground settling, wind erosion, and flooding.

Along with federally regulated pipelines, there may be facilities such as provincially and locally regulated pipelines and cables in your work area. These may include oil and gas field gathering pipes, gas distribution systems, fibre optic communications cables, water and sewer lines, and electrical cables. Know what's below. Contact www.clickbeforeyoudig.com.

See DPR – Authorizations, section 2.

Pipeline signs or markers are placed in visible locations along the right-of-way. They tell you a pipeline is in the area, but not its exact location.

For those living and working near pipelines

Know what’s below. In addition to federally regulated pipelines, there may be other provincially and locally regulated pipelines and cables in your area. These facilities may include oil and gas field gathering pipes, gas distribution systems, fibre-optic cables, water and sewer lines, and electrical cables.

Click more to see the steps to take before starting any activity that disturbs the soil 30 cm (12 in) or deeper below the surface.

Read more...
  1. Don’t just dig. Plan ahead. It takes time to locate the pipes and cables and to get written consent, if needed.
  2. Look for pipeline marker signs in your area, and check land records for easements.
  3. Contact Click Before You Dig or a one-call notification centre to locate underground pipes and cables. In the Territories, contact the pipeline company or utility owner directly. You may need to be on site when the technician comes.
  4. Get written consent from the pipeline company before any ground disturbance that is 30 cm (12 in) or deeper.
  5. You must give everyone the safety information they need: contractors, subcontractors, family members, volunteer helpers, and employees. To learn more, read Your Field Responsibilities.

Related publications, regulations, and guidance

Pipeline Damage Prevention Regulations—What You Need to Know

Living and Working Near Pipelines

Guidance Notes — Regulations for Pipeline Damage Prevention

Damage prevention resources

Organizations across Canada have joined to help you plan your work safely. Click any of the logos below to visit their sites and find out how they can help you.

Dig Safe Logo
Click Before You Dig Logo
Canadian Common Ground Alliance Logo

Contact damage prevention

If you have questions or would like to provide feedback on the regulations or guidance for pipeline damage prevention, please contact us at DPinfo@cer-rec.gc.ca. When communicating with CER employees, you are encouraged to use the official language of your choice.

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