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 What is the difference between a public utility and a private utility?

A public utility is one installed by a utility company (either a publicly-owned utility department or a commercial company) or a contractor hired by the company. A private utility is one installed by the property owner or a contractor hired by the property owner.

Why do I need to call another locator if I have already called One Call (811)?

Under Oregon Law, any excavator is required to call 811 forty-eight business hours before digging. This notifies all public utilities (for example, Eugene Water and Electric, or Springfield Utility Board) and the owners of those utilities will then mark the right of way -- that is, from the power meter to the street or from the the water meter to the main. They will not mark the power line from the meter to a shop, or the water line running from the back of the water meter into your house. Even though utility service is provided by the utility company, the property owner is the owner of the wires and cables and pipes and is responsible for them. Just as you are responsible for calling a plumber if a pipe leaks from the meter to your house, you are responsible for making sure that pipe is not damaged while digging.

Why can’t I choose you to locate utilities in the right of way as well?

Because Oregon law states that the owner of the utility is required to mark those utilities upon any excavation. The utility company either does the locating or sub-contracts a locate service. Unless we have a contract from that utility company, we cannot mark the lines that they own.

Do I need to have the utilities marked if I am just landscaping my own yard?

Usually, yes. The law requires any person who digs to call 811 before any operation in which earth, rock or other material is moved or displaced by any means, such as planting a tree, putting in fence posts, installing mailboxes, planting shrubs, building a deck, and even putting up a real estate "for sale" sign. You are exempt only if you are the owner or tenant of the property, the excavation is not within an established easement, and it is less than 12 inches deep.

As to your privately-owned lines, it's better to be safe than sorry. Our rates for locating are much less than the cost of repairing a line damaged by digging.

What are some examples of private utilities homeowners should consider?

In addition to basic services on their side of the meter, homes sometimes have:

  • Sprinkler systems

  • Drainage pipes for gardens and gutters

  • Electric cabling for external lighting

  • Gas lines for outdoor grills and fire pits

  • Lines for power to unattached garages or other exterior structures

  • Power and water lines to swimming pools

  • Invisible fencing for pets

What exactly can you locate?

Anything that is conductive, or that can be made conductive, is locatable. Copper, galvanized steel, ductile iron, cast iron, or any other kind of metal is usually conductive. This means all utilities are locatable except plastic water lines to older homes built before it became standard practice to bury wire with them.

How about other plastic pipe?

We can locate it if a locate wire is present -- which is the case with most plastic gas services and modern water pipes -- or if an access point is available. For example, plastic sewer laterals are often labeled as un-locatable. Hole In One Locating will push a metallic fish tape through the sewer cleanout and locate the line. The same is also true of storm drains that run to the street, or any other plastic pipe that has an opening.

Are you a licensed locator?

There is no licensing system for locators because we do not build anything or otherwise improve real property.

What do the different colors of the markings mean?

They identify what kind of utility has been marked. There is a national standard for the colors, observed by all locators, as follows.

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