Beware of what’s below the surface

By Lanny McInnes
Date Posted: May 25, 2024

This is the time of year when Manitobans usually start tackling their lawn and garden projects. If your landscaping or yard project calls for some digging to be done in your yard, it’s important to make sure you know exactly what is below the surface before a shovel hits the ground.

Every year, homeowners in Manitoba damage buried utility lines on their property resulting in costly repairs, injuries and even fatalities. If your project involves digging, please make sure you always click before you dig. To help you do that, the Manitoba Common Ground Alliance established the Click Before You Dig Manitoba program. This service provides underground facility screening and notification for safe excavation for people who intend to disturb the ground in Manitoba and the utility operators who register their buried facilities.

To improve the safety and overall process of damage prevention to underground infrastructure in Manitoba, utilities like Manitoba Hydro and Bell MTS have joined the MCGA’s Click Before You Dig Manitoba service. Commercial and residential excavators can reduce the risk of personal injury and property damage by using the Click Before You Dig Manitoba service, reaching more operators of buried utilities with only a single web-based request for locates.

Click Before You Dig Manitoba has four easy steps to help make sure your dig is safe by having you follow these four easy steps:

Step 1 : Submit your locate request online at or by phone. Go to Submit Locate Request or call 1.800.940.3447 to request that your buried facilities be located and marked. Make sure you plan ahead and submit your request at least three full working days before you start your project.

Step 2: Wait for the locate to be completed. Within three full working days, the utility owners or their authorized locator will contact you or will locate and mark the buried lines on your property. They will provide you with detailed information explaining the markings and how to proceed safely. Locate documentation must be kept on site during your excavation.

Step 3: Identify any customer-owned utility lines. Customer-owned lines, such as water and sewer service lines, sprinkler systems and any lines connecting buildings on a property, are not registered with The utility owners do not know the location of these lines. It is your responsibility to contact a private locator to mark any customer-owned utilities in the dig area.

Step 4: Dig with care. Locate markings identify the approximate location of buried utilities. If you’re digging within one metre on either side of the markings (five metres from high pressure pipelines), carefully expose the line with hand tools to determine its exact location. If you have questions about digging close to a utility, contact the utility owner directly.

Be sure to use Click Before You Dig Manitoba before starting any excavation project, big or small.

Lanny McInnes is the President & CEO of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.