September 22, 2023 – Underground World of Utilities

Beware the unseen world of utilities. Our water and sewer lines share the same space underground with other utilities like gas, storm drain, irrigation, electric, telephone, fiber optic, and others.

Burying utility lines protects and keeps them out of the way but digging them up for repairs is no easy job. Most utility companies are required to keep maps and share this information with the 811 locator services. Before digging, always call 811 to have utility lines marked – it’s a free service.

Utility line location markings are color coded, and in some cases the utility lines themselves are, too.

Blue – Water
Green – Sewer
Red – Electric
Black – Telephone
Yellow – Natural Gas
Orange – Fiber Optic Cable
White – Sprinkler System

Our crews take great precautions when excavating after 811 has spotted an area. In some situations, we use a high-pressure water jet and a vacuum to hydro excavate lines where other utilities are near, but we also hand dig with shovels to avoid damaging and putting them out of service.

Some repair or replacement jobs can take many days because of other utility lines above and around ours. To replace pipelines in areas congested with other utilities, we sometimes use a pipe bursting method of installation to break apart the existing line and slip a new pipe in place without having to dig from the top.

Think and call 811 before you dig. Most importantly, it’s a matter safety for you and everyone around. And a careless mistake can cost more than $10,000 to repair, so don’t take that chance.

Here’s a recent example of a sewer line replacement buried beneath a water line (blue), a gas line, and two other utilities:

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