Understanding Utility Markings — Paint and Flags — and Easements
March 09, 2022
Because many yards and roadways in our community have sprouted little flags in bright colors it looks like spring flowers got an early start here.
But I've gotten a lot of questions about what is happening, how this can happen, who is doing it, and who said they could. So, I thought I'd attempt to answer some of those questions for those who've asked and those who are wondering but haven't voiced their questions.
The colored lines and flags you see are not indicative of what is going to be dug, those are marking WHAT IS ALREADY THERE. The new utility companies, when they are preparing to dig, bore, trench, etc., send Locate Requests through the OKIE811 system (which everyone who is going to dig even a posthole on your own property is required by law to do. BEFORE DIGGING ANYWHERE, go to OKIE811.com and file a Locate Request). All the utility companies are then notified of the area where the new utility, fence, or whatever (cable in this case) is going to be going and they mark where their existing utilities are located so that the new company will not hit, cut, or otherwise damage them. For instance, when you see blue paint or blue flags, that indicates where we believe our water lines are. Most of the other existing utilities are identified on their little flags, whether they are electric, cable, phone, gas, etc.
What many residents in Pecan Valley North and South do not realize is that our streets are legally 60' wide even though just 26' wide is paved. That means there is another 17' on each side of the street before your own property actually begins. This is called the Right of Way and is owned by the county.
Then there is a legal easement of anywhere from 10-20' wide parallel to the street on the private property where utilities can be run. Our water lines are in those easements, usually about 35' from the center of the street.
Some of the cable companies are running their cables in the Right of Way, for instance along Cache Rd or 112th where the rear easements are fenced. They got permission from the county to run those lines in the R.O.W. instead of the easement. They COULD run their cables inside those yards and can legally remove fences to get to those easements if necessary. Personally, I'm appreciative that they are not doing that.
Every property owner should have a plat or a blueprint of their property which shows where those easements are located and in Pecan Valley they will be as I identified above, as well as rear easements in many cases.
I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that if you see the utility companies marking their lines across your property, that you get a colored paint (never use white as that indicates where to dig) and mark your sprinkler lines if they are in that easement or Right Of Way. If the lines are marked and the new installer hits them, they must repair or replace them. If they are not marked and they hit them, they are not responsible for the cost of repair.
Here is a simple article explaining Easements, Property Owners Rights, and Utility Company Rights.
Property Owners' Rights and Utility Easements | legalzoom.com