Protecting Public Health and Safety


Locate Underground Service Utilities

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You’ve seen the markings on curbs, in the roadway, or other places in and around construction projects. They generally say "USA" in white paint and are accompanied by arrows or other color-coded messages. What do these markings signify?

USA-MarkingLegendUSA—which stands for underground service alert—is an important method for locating and marking buried utility facilities so that they are not damaged or destroyed during construction activity. In central and northern California and in Nevada, a regional non-profit network links a number of utilities, including EID, in an effort to improve USA locates. Program personnel receive planned excavation reports from public and private entities and then pass along those reports to all participating members of the program who may have underground facilities at the excavation site. For EID, this could mean water, sewer, and recycled water lines, any of which, if damaged, could cause loss of service and possibly require an expensive fix. 

Whether you’re a professional contractor or simply doing a little work to improve your property, it pays to know what may lie beneath the ground in your intended work area. USA North offers a five-step approach to help ensure a safe and successful excavation.

  1. Survey and mark your proposed excavation site with white spray paint or chalk. Homeowners can use flour.
  2. Call 811 two working days before you dig and note your ticket number. Reference your ticket number if you need to call back
  3. The wait during the required two-working-day notice allows members—such as EID—to examine their underground facility records and respond to you.
  4. Respect and preserve the field marks for the duration of your job; if any of the markings are not visible, you are required to call and request that the facilities be marked again. 
  5. Dig with care—facilities that are in conflict with your excavation should be located with hand tools and protected before power equipment is used.

 This program, when used properly, helps to prevent unnecessary damage to services every day.