Digging? Call Blue Stake

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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 customers.

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' Responsibility

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 locate requests.)

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 fail.

Utility Responsibilities

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 company.

Utility companies are required to use the International Color Coding system for identifying underground lines.

Color Markings

Facility Type


Electric Power Distribution & Transmission

Safety Red

Gas Distribution and Transmission, Oil Product Distribution and Transmission; Dangerous Materials, Product Lines

High Visibility Safety Yellow

Telephone and Telegraph System; Cable Television Safety

Alert Orange

Fiber Optics Communication Lines (The Letter "F" in Safety)

Alert Orange

Water Systems; Slurry Pipelines Safety

Precaution Blue

Sanitary Sewer Systems

Safety Green

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 lightning storm.)

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 Recorder's office.

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 utility.

Can I place decorative landscaping on a Utility Easement?

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.