Missouri 811 is a free service that ensures that locate notices are distributed to the appropriate public underground facility owner near the excavation site. When planning any form of excavation, you are required to place a locate request with the Missouri 811 at least 3 but not more than 10 working days prior to beginning excavation, except in the case of an emergency. Weekends and State and Federal Holidays do not count toward the 3 working days. If your excavation is being done by a contractor, the contractor is responsible for placing the locate request.
When submitting a locate request via phone or online, Missouri 811 will notify the appropriate utility owner who will then dispatch their own personnel to mark their utilities using color-coded flags and/or paint. For example, when Missouri 811 notifies an electrical power company to mark their lines, the power company will send one of their employees to the excavation site within 3 working days to locate only the power lines for which they own (aka – public lines). When doing so, they will place red flags and/or red paint to mark the location of the “public” power lines owned by the electric power company. The public lines typically run from the street to the meter but may vary in some cases.
So, what if you have a backyard pool or garage that is fed power via an underground line directly from the house? Who is responsible for marking these lines?
All underground utilities (power, gas, communications, and water) that are not owned by the public utility company are considered to be “private” lines and are the responsibility of the landowner. So, in this case, the landowner would be responsible for contacting a private underground utility locator to mark the power lines that run to a backyard pool or garage.
Some possible private utility lines may include:
- Any underground pipes connecting a swimming pool to a pump/filter
- An in-ground sprinkler system
- Electricity to outdoor lighting installed on the property away from the house
- A detached garage with electricity
- A shed or storage building with electricity
If your property has one or more of these facilities, you should first call Missouri 811 and then a private locating company. This will ensure that you prevent serious damage to utilities and possible injuries to people on the job site. Remember, lines are buried everywhere, and some are only buried an inch or two below the surface. A job as small as planting a tree or installing a mailbox or fence can damage underground facilities. So, if you plan to dig, be aware of the public and private lines during every project whether big or small.
Submitting a public utility locate request followed by a private locate request is the best way to keep yourself and the underground facilities safe from the hidden dangers in your work area.