By UFA Assistant Chief Mike Watson
Warmer weather gives us a shift from indoor to outdoor projects. Many outdoor projects such as planting trees, digging fence post holes or installing sprinkler lines require digging in our yards. While many of these digging projects are seemingly harmless, they can be dangerous and costly. Do you know what lies underground? Many utilities, such as natural gas lines, the power to our homes and sheds, and cable and phone lines can exist in the ground below your sod, gardens, sidewalks and driveways. Damaged power lines and gas lines can be dangerous. Any underground utilities that are damaged can be very costly to repair. Since many utility lines are buried at shallow depths, they can even be damaged by hand shovels.
Different utility companies have programs that will mark the locations of their utility lines before you begin digging. Most of these programs are associated with calling 811 to make a request. Rocky Mountain Power’s program is called, “Call 811 Before You Dig.” Blue Stakes of Utah has information on their website called “Know What’s Below, 5 Steps to Safer Digging.” If you provide the address where the project is going to take place and the date that the project is to begin, these services can help avoid costly damage, injury or death. Whenever possible, allow three to four business days for the utility company to mark the utility location(s) before your project begins. Each utility company will use color-coded, water soluble spray paint to mark their utilities.
Here is a list of what the different colors mean:
Blue: Potable water
Red: Electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables
Yellow: Gas, oil, stream, petroleum or gaseous materials, such as natural gas
Green: Sewer and drain lines
Orange: Communication, cables, conduit, alarm or signal lines
Purple: Reclaimed water, irrigation and slurry lines
Pink: Temporary survey markings
White: Proposed excavation area. This is usually marked by the person(s) doing the excavation, such as a contractor.
Please call before you dig and wait the required amount of time for utility lines to be marked. Then dig accurately and carefully. The utility companies