Private Utility Locating vs. Public Utility Locating

Mismarked utilities and failure to dig safely could result in accidents and costly construction delays. But when is a public or private utility locate needed? To be clear on when to call in a public locate and when to call a private utility locating service, here’s what you need to know:

First Step: Call 811

By law, utilities must be located before beginning any sort of excavation project by calling your respective 811 State One-Call. It’s important to understand that a utility service provider cannot fulfill the excavator’s legal responsibility to call 811. Contacting 811 must always be the first step before you dig. However, this service only covers certain underground public utilities. (That’s where Baker-Peterson’s services come in.)

Public utilities are the ones owned by large corporations or municipalities. They make up the public network of electricity, water, sewer and natural gas systems, and are managed by providers. Examples of these commercial lines include: water mains, buried electrical lines, gas mains, fiber optic and other communication lines, and sewers.

Public utilities generally stop on the trail to your land – where the utility is metered. Think about a metering system, transformer, vault, value, or junction box. Beyond such demarcation points are private utilities; the structures on personal property not owned by the utility or municipality. When you’re starting a digging project on private property, you’re liable for damage. To avoid fines, fires, and outages, you need a public locate, but you also need a private utility locator like Baker-Peterson.

Private residential utilities may include:

  • Electricity (lines running to your garage or barn, invisible pet fences, landscape lighting or driveway lighting, signal switch cabling, generators, solar arrays)
  • Telephone and cable TV extensions to the garage, pool house, or detached apartment
  • Propane lines to buried tanks, gas grills, and pool heaters
  • Water supply lines (for private wells, irrigation and sprinkler systems)
  • Septic lines, tanks, piping, and leach fields for sanitary and sewer services

Utilities’ locations and depths can be altered by weather, tree roots, bedrock, groundwater, line repairs and plenty of other unforeseen circumstances. Understanding your need for an underground utility locate will help to ensure safety and quality standards are met on your dig site. Ultimately, locating utilities prior to digging or drilling promotes a safer work environment because it provides the customer with up-to-date subsurface information.

It’s always important to hire a private utility locator. Contact Baker-Peterson for your private utility locating needs to prevent accidents and costly property damage. We’ll leave no stone unturned and no pipe undetected; our founding philosophy is “no surprises.”

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