Private Facilities: Are They On Your Property?

Private underground facilities, also called customer-owned facilities, may be found anywhere, including your excavation site. Operators of lines buried in the public right-of-way must register with Montana 811 (MT 811), so these lines will be marked as the result of a locate request. Privately-owned facilities, like utility lines that serve heaters for hot tubs, gas barbecues, electric security lighting, invisible dog fences, farm taps, buried sprinklers systems, and many others, are not marked when locators respond to your MT 811 request, since they are the owner’s responsibility. Let’s take a look at some common types of private underground facilities.

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The Tolerance Zone

After filing a locate request with Montana 811, make sure to wait two full business days to get your underground utilities marked before you break ground. After the standard waiting period has passed, remember to check the status of your locate ticket by going to and clicking on the white button named “Search and Status of a Montana Locate Ticket.” If all affected facility operators have responded, what’s next? You should dig using hand tools, vacuum excavation, or a non-invasive excavation method within the “tolerance zone”, the 18” area on either side of an underground utility plus the width of the utility itself.

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Fall Harvest

With over 58 million acres of farm land in Montana1, you’ve probably seen signs of the annual fall harvest. With thousands of miles of underground pipeline in the state, it’s nearly inevitable that underground pipelines will run through or near farm land. Erosion, frost, root system growth, and other factors, will change the depth and position of utility lines. These facilities can be buried just a few inches below the surface, so even small excavating projects can result in damages. Exercise caution and prevent damages by always following the safe digging process for all agricultural excavations.

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Staking U is Coming to Montana!

Education is the key to locator success. Founded in 1999, Staking University (Staking U) established the first year-round training program to educate and certify locators on locating equipment and best practices. Contacting Montana 811 (MT 811) to get utilities located is the first important step in the safe digging process, making it essential for locators to learn how to provide complete and accurate locate information.

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