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Alternate Locate Agreements; What you need to know about “ALA’s”.

Posted on Monday, August 8th, 2016
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As a leading provider of hydro vac excavation services throughout Ontario, it is necessary for Super Sucker Hydro Vac Services to have locates when digging.  However, this does not always mean we need to have traditional field locates.  With many of the province’s larger underground facility owners, we have established an alternate arrangement – an Alternate Locate Agreement, often referred to as an “ALA”.  To help explain what this is and how it works, we have developed a frequently asked questions document.  We hope this helps make this innovative process a bit clearer for our clients and the public.

What exactly is an Alternate Locate Agreement (ALA)?

An ALA is a legal agreement, between plant/facility owner and an excavator, outlining the conditions and terms, agreed to by both parties, whereby the indicated excavator can safely proceed without a traditional field locate, aka “paint on the ground”, when using a specific method of excavation (hydro vac), for low risk work.  The documentation contains information regarding excavation methods and procedures that must be followed, as well as details surrounding “allowable work”.  As a legal agreement, there is a start date, term limit, and an expiration date indicated, and contains termination, insurance, and legal liability clauses.

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What does this Alternate Locate Agreement (ALA) allow the excavator to do with respect to our underground facilities?

The “allowable work” component of the agreement is outlined in the document’s Schedule “A”.  This section lists the specific criteria under which the excavator can proceed without obtaining a traditional field locate.  This includes the method of excavation – in our case it is hydro vac excavation – as well as excavation specifications, and industry guidelines and best practices to be followed.

Hydro vac excavation is an acknowledged safe digging, low risk excavation method when following industry best practices.  As the ALA grants the facility owner the ability to audit and revoke the agreement, it is in the best interest of the hydro vac excavator to employ strict operation procedures to ensure compliance.

As a facility owner, why should we sign an Alternate Locate Agreement?  What are the benefits?

An ALA benefits both the utility plant owner and the excavator.  You can reduce the number of unnecessary locate requests in the situations where we are excavating with hydro vac, reducing your locate service provider (LSP) cost substantially.  ALAs also reduce your paperwork load and administrative costs. We benefit as we can get to work quicker and more efficiently.   Bottom line: ALAs save utility owners money.

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Does an Alternate Locate Agreement increase our risk of damage to underground infrastructure?

In the past, some utility owners have expressed concerns related to potential plant damage. However, according to research undertaken by ON1Call, there has been no damage increase related to the correct use of an ALA.

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As an organization, ON1Call is encouraging all facility owners to use ALAs to reduce the workload for the entire damage prevention industry.

More information on ALAs, can be found online at:

http://on1call.com/index.php/resource-centre/online-reference-guide/ (this is a long page and requires some scrolling, but the info is listed).

Have more questions about Alternate Locate Agreements (ALAs)?  Please send us an email at inquiries@supersucker.ca (please reference ALA in the subject line).  We will make sure the right person gets you the right answer.

Updated and Reposted from Nov 2014