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Pre-requisites for Bluestake:

  • Provide unimpeded access to your backyard (unlocked gates or someone being home)

  • Ground leveled/evened and cleared of any large, loose debris if possible.

  • All dogs and other frisky varmints secured.

  • Name and contact number for your excavation sub (not mandatory).  They need this in case its determined that the excavator later breaks a utility line.  After all, they have to go after someone right?



Bluestake (www.azbsinc.com) is the non-profit organization that notifies all the utility and cable companies to come out to mark the ground if they have any of their lines underneath the area you are planning to do work on.  They are formed by member utility owners to assist excavators and homeowners in the statutory requirement to notify underground utility owners of excavation that may affect underground facilities.  Arizona law requires that everyone who intends to excavate must provide two (2) full working days notice to the owners of underground facilities within the project area.  Each company/organization will then representatives out to mark their lines with different colors as a way to code it.  If they don't  have any lines under the area you are working on, they mark it "NC" - for No Conflict.  This is to help you, but its really for them - so they don't have to deal with costly repairs if say the subs dig to close to a line and break it.  There's quite a few utilities where I'm at.  Here's all the companies that have lines in my area:

  • Southwest Gas - Yellow

  • US West (Fiber/Cable) - Orange

  • Ocotillo Water - Blue

  • Salt River Project

    • Electric - Red

    • Irrigation (more for farmers) - Blue

  • City of Chandler

    • Water - Blue

    • Reclaimed Water (from golf courses) - Blue

    • Traffic Signals - Red

    • Sewer - Green

  • Cox (cable) - Orange

They're pretty quick.  From the time you call, they say that all the lines should be marked within 48 hours.  Once all the lines are marked, the pool subs are allowed to dig two feet deep on either side of the line (only with hand tools).  Anything beyond that, you can go farther down and do it with heavier machinery.  Interestingly, they asked who my excavator was going to be.  They said that if they happened to break a line, the utility people could go after the sub who busted it rather than go after the homeowner.  What a great idea.  The markings are only good for 15 days.  When I called they gave me a Notice # or confirmation number, kind of like a ticket.  If I haven't completed the dig in 15 days, they need to remark the ground again.  Even if all the lines are still visible on the ground, they still have to re-do it.  Apparently, there's a watchdog organization called the AZ Corporate Commission that comes out to do random audits.  Anyone caught without a valid ticket (expired markings) gets busted.  I never bothered to ask what the penalty was.

I called on Thursday late PM.  On Friday, I got a call from SW gas.  They verbally told me that there were no gas lines in the back of the property.  I guess that saved them from having to come out.

Friday, August 9, 2002 - 5:30pm
On late Friday, I noticed a few markings showed up, but they were at the front of the property:


I didn't see the "NC" but being that they were at the front of the house and not the back, I figured that I was OK.  Funny, there were no markings for any of the other agencies.  As I went through the list, it made sense, though.  I would hope that there were no traffic signal lines in my property.  The same goes for reclaimed water from golf courses.  A sewer line through my property would be a bad day.

Update:  Saturday, August 24, 2002
As I was leaving the house to go run an errand this weekend, I noticed the following additional markings on the roadside just beyond my curb.  I'm not sure when they came to mark it, but I didn't notice it there earlier in the week.  They must have marked it on Thursday or Friday:


Hmmm - that's swell, they promise to come mark my house within two days and show up a week and a half late.  The first picture on the left is from Cox Cable.  The middle one is from the City of Chandler to mark for water pipes.  Fortunately, there are no conflicts, but its kind of dismaying that they would come this late and not notify me about it.  Especially since the excavation has been completed a week ago!

I really like the picture on the right.  When the utility guy was marking it, I wonder if he was thinking if I wouldn't see this humongous beige TV cable box thrusting 2-1/2 feet out of the ground and accidentally run over it with the backhoe tractor.

The next one really took the cake, though.  I looked across my yard over to my neighbor's house and saw this:

Now this was REALLY something.  Notice the large electrical station just to the left of it in the picture.  Its the same electrical station to the left of the TV cable box in the picture above to the right.  I'm wondering if he was thinking that I would plow through the cable TV box in my yard, then somehow miss this gargantuan electrical box marked "WARNING: HIGH VOLTAGE" and destroy that.  Then after surviving being barbequed to a crisp, in my rage, continue through to my neighbor's yard and knock over his utility box.

So far, my neighbor hasn't come over to complain about someone spray-painting his yard  ...

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