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Color Codes for Utility Markouts

Color_Coding-Flags.jpgUnderground utility designating is the process of identifying and marking underground utilities. These utilities may include lines for electrical, telecommunication, natural gas, water, sanitary sewer, storm drains, etc.

They are usually marked on the surface of the ground by spray paints and pin flags using their corresponding colors. The color codes for the marks generally follow the guidelines recommended by American Public Works Association (APWA):

red.png

Red

 Electric power lines, cables, conduit, and lighting cables

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Yellow

 Natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or other gaseous or flammable materials

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Green

 Sanitary sewers and drain lines

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Orange

 Telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduits

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Blue

 Potable water

  • Underground utilities marked red or yellow are most dangerous if the situation is not taken seriously, just like when you encounter red or yellow traffic lights. You really want to keep as far away from high voltage electrical cables or natural gas pipes as possible when conducting drilling, digging, excavation or other ground-intrusive work. It’s worth noting that some gas service lines are small plastic pipes and they can be easily broken, even just by a hit from a shovel.
  • Green marks are for sewer and drain pipes. Sewer and storm drain mains usually have manholes for access with certain spacings along their routes.
  • Orange marks are usually for telephone, TV and other communication lines. Although in general the damage to these lines doesn’t cause immediate life-threating events, the repair cost could be really high. The yearly repair costs for telecommunication cables due to ground-intrusive work have been estimated as hundreds of millions of dollars in the U.S. alone. In addition, the revenue lost for the users due to the downtime could be much higher than the repair cost itself, especially for those high capacity fiber optic cables.
  • Blue marks are for potable/drinking water. Water pipes usually have valves accessible on the ground surface along their main routes and service lines.
  • Other colors such as purple and pink are sometimes used for unknown/unidentified underground utilities. Also, a related color in underground utility designating/locating is white, which is usually used for marking proposed areas for excavation or other ground-intrusive work.

To help you to remember the color codes for underground utilities, use the symbolic representations and explanations in the table below:

Color Code

Symbolic Representation

Explanation

red.png

Red

Red Traffic Light

Stop! Electrocution is an imminent danger!

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Yellow

Yellow Traffic Light

Warning! Limited time window to respond in a situation like gas leak!

green.png

Green

Green Traffic Light

Let sewer water and storm water go.

orange.png

Orange

Traffic Safety

Color orange is a way of visual communication for safety as shown in orange signs, cones and safety vests: I’m here, don’t hit me!

blue.png

Blue

Blue Sky

Like air under the blue sky, drinking water under blue marks is vital for our survival.

The best policy is to ensure you have a private utility locator who is experienced!

At Utility Survey Corp., all our technicians have years of experience with underground utility locating and follow our proprietary  "10-Step Utility Locating Protocol™"

Click the image below to see what it is all about!

"10 Step Utility Locating Protocol"

 

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