• How Did You Want That Drawing To Look? Part 1

  • In our industry, figures and drawing are a huge and important part of our Phase One and Two ESA reports. The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is especially true when you get involved in complex sites requiring contaminant delineation drawings, conceptual site models, cross sections and detailed borehole & monitoring well logs. Not to sound ancient, but when I started in this field, I had to learn pen and ink drafting and Leroy lettering. Some of you more ‘seasoned’ folks may remember this; it wasn’t easy, and you tried to avoid mistakes at all costs or risk starting over on your drawing or log. Back in the 1980’s computer drafting was in its infancy, and today it has become such a part of what we do that we (geoscientists, engineers, assessors) often take drafting, and our drafts-persons for granted.   I talked to a couple of my go-to drafting service providers (THINK Envirotechnical Services in Calgary AB, and Automated Engineering Technologies, in Guelph ON, (thanks Liesl and Chris, respectively) for some helpful hints for consultants to remember when it comes to drafting.

    What’s the purpose?
    Understanding how the figures will ultimately be displayed in the report is useful information, as it can reduce or eliminate the need for the consultant to make last minute sizing or formatting changes which may affect the legibility of the figures. A good start is to define the anticipated use of the figures at the start of the project. For example if reports are to be produced annually for a site that may change how the drafter organizes the project and the initial drawings vs. a one time report.

    Location, Location, Location
    One of the primary functions of any site plan is to show the location and details of a particular site. It’s vital that these locations be accurate and reproducible. Always use a North arrow on your sketch, even if your typical format is to have top of the page as North. If you use a recreational-grade GPS device to pick up sample locations vs. a sub-metre device like a Trimble, throw it away or keep it for recreational use. It is not adequate for this work and can be off by as much as 10 metres. If you don't have a suitably accurate GPS device, use grid paper and draw to an accurate and reproducible scale. Use UTM coordinates, not latitude and longitude. Drafting will be faster if the drafters don't have to convert coordinates.

    Base Drawings
    The final drawing product can only be as good as the base information and the data presented. We can all get messy in the field, especially when rushed and/or working in adverse conditions and inclement weather. Keep your drafts-person in mind and try to write neatly and legibly, preferably in pencil or using waterproof pen and paper – a soggy sketch or field log with running blotted ink is nearly impossible to decipher. If your sketch is messy (or covered in mud), take a few minutes to redraw it before you submit it for drafting. If there are existing drawings or a legal survey to use as a base plan for the site, use copies of those for the field markup instead of sketching from scratch. The better your field sketch or log, the better and more cost effective your drawings will be.

    Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA

    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at info@down2earthenvironmental.ca