Frequently Asked Questions

Locates and 811 Information:

Q: What is a locate?

A: Any company performing excavation is required by law to contact Colorado 811 https://www.colorado811.org/) to request a locate of the dig area prior to excavation. The purpose of the locate request is to have the existing underground utilities marked so that they can be avoided when performing the excavation. If there are multiple companies performing excavation on a job site, each company must enter their own locate ticket.

When an excavator enters a locate request, Colorado 811 issues a locate ticket notifying all utility owners in the work area of the locate request. Utility owners contract with locate companies to perform their locates. Utilities are required to respond within 2 business days. Locators are required to enter a “positive response” in the Colorado 811 system to notify the excavator of the ticket status. Ticket responses may state the ticket is complete or that it requires a QC, or a utility standby at time of excavation. Locators may also send responses indicating they have rescheduled the locate, or that they have cancelled the request due to weather, access issues or bad address. If the ticket is cancelled, the excavator must re-enter the request and wait for a new response. If locators do not enter a positive response by the due date, excavators are required to renotify the utility owner through Colorado 811 until utility owners complete the ticket and respond. No excavation shall occur until a positive response indicating the ticket is complete is received from all utility members on the ticket.

Utility owners and operators follow the APWA (American Public Works Association) standard color code to mark the locations of their underground facilities. The following colors are used:

  • RED – Electric Power Lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables
  • YELLOW – Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials
  • ORANGE – Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit
  • BLUE – Potable Water
  • PURPLE – Reclaimed Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines
  • GREEN – Sewers and Drain Lines
  • WHITE – Proposed Excavation
  • PINK – Temporary Survey Markings

For more information about Colorado One Call Law visit https://www.colorado811.org/)

Q: What is a private locate?

A: Private utilities are owned by the owner of a property and will not be marked with your request. These can include water and sewer laterals, power to a detached garage, sprinkler/irrigation systems, lines connected to a propane tank or septic system, etc. Private utilities must be marked by the property owner or a private locating company prior to any excavation. A private locate may be necessary in order to confirm the dig site is clear of any private utilities. For example the excavator will want to confirm the location of a sewer lateral in order to be assured that it is outside the dig location. L & M Underground may perform private locates on a project or may hire a private locating company, depending on the site. The cost of private locates will be included in our proposal. For owners interested in obtaining private locates prior to work, Colorado 811 provides a list of private locating companies, please visit https://colorado811.org/private-locate-companies/.

Private Locates

Q: What is an Emergency Locate?

A: In the event of an emergency repair requiring excavation, such as power outage or broken water line, an excavator may enter an emergency locate request. Utilities must respond to emergency locate tickets as soon as possible, usually within a few hours. The excavator must be present at the work site in order to call an emergency ticket.

Q: What is Potholing?

A: When excavating within two feet of any utility mark, excavators are required by law to expose and visually verify the depth of the utility. For HDD operations with a bore path that parallels a utility within 3 feet, potholing should be required at the beginning and end of the bore and every 50 feet along the route. For HDD operations with a bore path that parallels a utility within 5 feet, potholing should be required at the beginning and end of the bore and every 200 feet along the route. Potholing should also be performed for all utilities crossing the path of HDD operations. Once the utility depth is determined, the excavation or bore will be planned to provide enough clearance to avoid damage to the utility. Generally a bore must provide at least two feet of separation above or below the existing utility.

Water vacuum excavation systems dig the pothole using high-pressure water to reduce and loosen the soil. The wet soil and mud slurry is removed to a spoil tank using a powerful vacuum. Potholes in concrete or asphalt will require a core hole, usually 8” in diameter, that will be repaired after all work is complete. Pothole plates and/or temporary cold mix may be placed in the core hole until excavations and boring is complete. Once work is complete, a permanent concrete or hot asphalt mix patch of the 8” core will be performed. For potholes in the right of way, restoration must follow the requirements of the local municipality. Each municipality has its own standards for restoration of the core holes. For instance, a few municipalities require 2’x2’ saw cut and patch, infrared asphalt, and or flowfill. Many municipalities will require the excavator to replace an entire sidewalk panel if there are two or more cores. Some require a panel replacement even if there is a single core.

811 Locate Coordination

Q: What is the 811 utility locate coordination and private locate fee?

A: We charge a small fee to coordinate 811 locate and to verify and mark any potential private utilities in the work area.

811 locates are provided by the utility companies free of charge, however getting the locate completed accurately can take a good amount of administrative time from our team members.

We review mapping of parcels, right of ways, measurements, address and street sign postings, access issues (i.e. locked gates, fencing, pets, security, etc.) and upload images showing locate area. Many locates require us to make a trip to the site to pre-mark the locate area in paint to provide further clarification. Many locators ask us to meet on site to make sure they have access to the work area and/or have full understanding the area to be marked.

For each locate ticket called, there are several locate companies responding. We cannot perform any work until each and every one of the companies listed on the ticket provide us with a response that either they have “Marked” the site or that the site is “Clear”. For each ticket entered, multiple locators call our office to verify work scope, location and scheduling so they can prioritize their tickets. Each locate company sends emails and posts to an 811 portal that we monitor so that we can resolve any issues and determine when the locate is complete. If locates are not completed in a timely manner to help insure we can stay on track with our customer’s schedule. Tickets are often cancelled by locators on bad weather days when rain or snow prevents them from locating. Locators may also cancel tickets for no-access or bad address. When locators cancel a ticket, we must re-enter it and start the whole process again.

Once locates are complete, the tickets are good for 30 days. If the work schedule extends beyond 30 days of when the ticket was originally called in, we will need to call updates on the tickets. This is also required if the locates are no longer visible due to weather and or other work disturbing our marks.

Q: What is Private Locate Investigation?

A: Many properties have private utilities that are not marked by the 811 locators. These include sewer laterals, private water lines, drains, irrigation, electric and communication lines for lighting, gates, security, etc. On every job our foreman will survey the work area looking for signs of potential private utilities. They will determine where sewer laterals and waterlines on the property run to insure they are either out of our work area, or if they are in the work area, they will use electronic or other equipment to locate and mark them. Not all utilities are locatable. For example, irrigation and water lines that do not have tracer wire cannot be located. In this case we will rely on the property owner to provide us with information necessary to avoid damaging the lines.