How Dig Safely New York Educates on Private Utilities vs Public Utilities

Dig Safely New York educates contractors, excavators, and homeowners on the difference between Private and Public Utilities.  Those in the industry may know the difference, but it is vital for all parties to be on the same page on how to identify them. Here are the views of the 811-call center:


-       Private utility lines carry on beyond the property line and are the responsibility of the home/property owner. A utility operator may not mark these lines before a digging project.

-       Public utility lines are maintained and marked by the utility operator, typically marked up to the property line.

-       Natural gas lines are marked to where it enters the home.



Dig Safely New York member utilities decide where and when a utility becomes a privately owned pipe or cable.  This can change from location to location.  For example, the water main that provides water to everyone on a given street is public up to the curb box shut off, the water delivered directly to a homeowner/property owner past the curb box shut off is considered private.


Since these facilities are privately owned it is not the responsibility of the utility owners to locate these services.


Dig Safely New York believes the best practice for identifying private services is for the homeowner/property owner to contact Dig Safely New York by calling 811 or using the online location request platform, Exactix, and then hire a private locating company to identify and mark these private services. Dig Safely New York provides a list of these private locating companies on its website to make it easy for anyone in need of a private locating company.


Prior to taking those steps, homeowners/property owners can look for, what are called, private service indicators. Some of these indicators are invisible fence, outdoor lamp post, shed or detached garage, pool or hot tub, and electric transformer and/or meter. 


These are the foundation of Dig Safely New York’s teaching, so everyone involved in the 811 process is knowledgeable on which party is responsible for marking which utilities. Most importantly, knowing this information prevents damages to all underground utility lines public and private.