What are Private Underground Utilities?

understand what's underneath trademark trinity subsurface

A utility company owns and maintains public utility lines and cables. They will determine where the lines end. Private utility lines go beyond that point and must be owned and maintained by the property owner.

Underground Utility Locating Company

How Do I Know If a Utility is Public or Private?

This can be a tricky question. Oftentimes, only the owner of the utility will know if it is public versus private. On large corporate campuses, universities, and retail establishments you will find a mixture of public and private utilities. Even in residential settings, public and private utilities can exist near each other.

A general rule for all large facilities is any utility is designated as private up to the meter. Beyond that, is public. Meaning, underneath highways or public sidewalks will be owned and serviced by the town or state.

By law a property owner or contractor must call Miss Utility (811) prior to digging so that public utility companies have the opportunity to mark out or designate any public utilities in the area.  But they will only mark the utilities they own.  Leaving many important facilities unmarked.

Some examples of privately owned utilities are the following:

  1. Water lines both fire and domestic from the public right-of-way throughout a private property. (even though the meter may by inside a building the line from the public main to the building can be private)
  2. Secondary Gas Mains from a meter to buildings can be private.  This is common in apartment complexes. In the case of residential properties, secondary gas lines to pool heaters or outbuildings such as garages or guest houses will be commonly private.
  3. Steam, hot water lines from boiler rooms are private.
  4. Secondary electric lines to site lighting, sheds, pumps, lift stations, etc. are private.
  5. High voltage to/from switchgear and transformers can also be private.
  6. Communications lines on corporate campuses and university campuses as well as some residential communities can be private.
  7. Irrigation lines and short circuit camera lines are private.
  8. Sewer lines on private property to the public main are considered private.
  9. Storm sewers on private property are private.
  10. Storage tanks, septic fields, water wells, geothermal lines,  All are private.

This is not a complete list but you can see that there quite a few potential conflicts that would not be marked out by the public locator or a call to 811.

This is why a quality private locator like Trinity Subsurface can play a huge role in the success and safety of any project.

Just because you follow the law and call 811 before you dig does not mean you know where everything is and are safe when you dig. Call a Trinity before you start your next project. Understanding what to look for is critical for damage prevention.

Back to Blog