Are You Digging? Call Blue Stake First!
What you should know BEFORE you dig
Before you do any digging, or hire
a company to dig (or excavate), the law says you must first
contact Arizona Blue Stake to determine whether or not there may be underground
utilities at your dig site. Underground utilities are generally located in the easement either in your front yard or an alley if your home backs
up to one. Homeowners, excavators, and utility companies all have
certain responsibilities that must be met prior to any digging taking place. There
are also several different colors used for marking utilities, depending on what utilities
actually exist at your dig site.
What is Blue Stake?
Arizona Blue Stake was established as a one-call
notification system by underground facility owners such as water, cable, gas,
telephone and electric, to assist excavators in notifying underground facility
owners prior to digging. This damage prevention service is provided free of
charge to any individual or company planning to dig.
Additional information on Blue Staking and downloadable blue
stake request forms can be found at www.azbluestake.com,
Arizona Blue Stake, Call before you dig!
By participating in the Blue Stake
program, you are:
Complying with state law -
Arizona's Damage Prevention Laws, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) and Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Rules require all utility
owners to clearly mark any utility that may conflict with any ground digging.
Avoiding injuries ?
Incident damage to utilities can cause injury to anyone near the dig site.
Preventing costly damages and
interruptions of facility services - clearly marking the utility before
digging reduces potential interruption of utility services to
Saving time and money - Utility
accidents can slow down construction schedules and can be costly to repair.
Avoiding hazards - clearly
identifying utility locations through the Blue Stake procedures allows
construction activities to avoid potential hazards.
Eliminating needless construction
delays - avoiding incidental utility damages keeps construction
schedules on time, reducing noise, service interruptions, traffic congestion
and annoyance to local neighbors.
Homeowners' & Excavators'
Call Arizona Blue Stake at least two full working days
before you dig. Be prepared to provide the location of the excavation site,
including address and cross streets. The Blue Stake Agents will ask a few
questions regarding the extent of your digging activities. If you have legal
descriptions of your job site (township, range, section and quarter section)
please provide that as well.
The Blue Stake Agent will provide a notice number and the
names of the utility companies that will be responding to your Blue Stake
Request. If the caller and the excavator are not the same person, make sure
that this information is provided to the excavator. Also inform the Blue Stake
Agent if any additional contractors will be involved with your excavation. If
possible, have your dig site marked with white paint. White paint helps the
locators find your site (this is especially true in difficult to describe
Utility companies have two working days to respond to your
Blue Stake request. Do not begin any excavation until all utilities have
responded by either marking the excavation site or clearing the site (no
conflict) by a telephone call. If any utility company fails to respond to your
request, contact Arizona Blue Stake and they will transmit another message
requesting immediate response.
Markings are valid for 15 working days. If you need to dig
past this time frame, call Arizona Blue Stake two full working days before the
expiration date and inform the Blue Stake Agent that you need to continue to
dig in this area.
Immediately report any and all damages to any underground
facility directly to the utility owner. All damages, including nicks in cables
and dents in steel, can and will eventually cause the underground facility to
Utility owners have two working days to respond to a Utility
Marking request. The Blue Stake Agent will provide the marking due date to the
requester at the time of the call. Utility companies are required to respond to
every request received.
Utility owners will mark only what they own and maintain;
typically this means they will mark only to their meter. Anything beyond the
meter is customer owned and maintained, and may not be marked by the utility
Utility companies are required to use the International
Color Coding system for identifying underground lines.
Electric Power Distribution & Transmission
Gas Distribution and Transmission, Oil Product
Distribution and Transmission; Dangerous Materials, Product Lines
High Visibility Safety
Telephone and Telegraph System; Cable Television
Fiber Optics Communication Lines (The Letter "F"
Water Systems; Slurry Pipelines Safety
Sanitary Sewer Systems
Reclaimed or Non-potable Water
Easement Quick Facts
What is a utility easement?
Utility easements are strips of land used by utility
companies to construct and maintain overhead electric, telephone and cable
television lines and underground electric, water, and sewer, telephone, and
cable television lines.
Who owns the utility easement?
The property owner owns all of the land including the
utility easements. However, utilities have a right to access that portion of
land which has been designated a utility easement.
How are utility easements created?
Utility easements are usually created at the time a plat
for a new development is designed. Utility easements almost always exist along
streets and along rear lot lines, and sometimes exist between two lots.
Why is it important to keep easements clear?
Keeping utility easements clear helps utility companies
perform routine maintenance (e.g. replace a pole), construct improvement
projects (e.g. install a new sanitary sewer), and repair utility lines during
emergencies (e.g. remove a tree which has fallen on a power line during a
What if I build on an existing easement?
Infrastructure construction is subject to Building
Setback Lines, and therefore cannot be built within the easement. Setback lines
are shown on your subdivision plat. Subdivision plats are available at the County
What if I build a fence in an easement?
An obstruction in the way of a utility company lengthens
outage or interruption by making the utility company move obstructions out of
the way. The damage caused by moving an object out of the way or removing a
fence is not the responsibility of the utility company. The utility company, by
the rights of the easement, has the power to do what it takes to maintain the
Can I place decorative landscaping on a Utility
Most Utilities encourage decorative landscaping within
the utility right-of way with the understanding that any materials placed
within the boundaries of the utility easement are subject to damage and are not
the responsibility of the utility owner. Any replacement cost for such damages
is clearly at the discretion of the utility owner.
What about damages of my landscaping from Utility
Marking for Construction?
By law, Utilities have the right to mark utility
locations in a discrete, non-obtrusive manner, within the boundaries of the
utility easement. The type, color and location of these markings are regulated
under state law. Although utilities will usually make an effort to limit damage
to landscaping, all damages to landscaping located within the boundaries of the
utility easement are the responsibility of the land-owner.
Last Updated: 1/14/2010