Anytime you are preparing to excavate for construction, commercial or residential, whether it be digging a 20’ deep pit in the middle of a busy urban intersection or a 12” post hole in a backyard, you are typically required by law to call in the excavation to the local utility locating authority. The extensive cost and safety implications of breaking and rupturing other’s underground utility lines or cables, has become a contentious legal and professional struggle. One way of combating this issue has been local or state utility locating and marking organizations. Here, professionals who plan to dig into the ground are required to call, explain their plans for construction, and provide detailed information of the locations of the excavations. Then all businesses on record who potentially have underground utilities in that area, are required to go locate and mark their facilitites within a certain allotted time period, often 48 hours. This organized way of preparing for and attempting to avoid costly disruptions and repairs, provides a basis for shifting liability to the negligent party when a conflict arises.  And it can be counted on that when large scale excavation is occurring, an underground utility will be found unexpectedly, a utility will not be marked or mismarked, or the excavation crew will simply be too careless.

During the location, it should also be the responsibility for the companies with utilities in the way of construction, to also pull up old records and inform others as the whether or not they have any old or ‘dead’ underground facilities, so others aren’t tiptoeing around a line unnecessarily. Temporary spray paint is commonly used on road, grass, or dirt. Flags may be used in addition to or in lieu of paint when the ground conditions don’t warrant (snow, ice, etc)

The following are standard paint colors in the US:

Red electric power lines, cables, conduit, and lighting cables
Orange telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduit
Yellow natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or other gaseous or flammable material
Green sewers and drain lines
Blue drinking water
Purple reclaimed water, irrigation, and slurry lines
Pink temporary survey markings, unknown/unidentified facilities
White proposed excavation limits or route