Public and Private Utilities

Contacting Georgia 811 is the correct first step when taking on a project that involves digging. Making sure that utilities are marked before you dig can help you avoid a costly and/or dangerous mistake. However, the utility service providers in your area that are notified by Georgia 811 will only mark public utilities. It is likely that you have both public and private utilities on your property and you will have to hire a private utility locator to mark any private utilities that are in the area where you plan to dig. So, how do you tell the difference between public and private utilities?


Public Utilities

Public utilities are owned and maintained by municipalities or utility companies and are part of a large public network. Examples of public utilities are water mains, buried electric lines, gas mains, fiber optic and telecommunications lines, and sewers. When approaching a home, the public utility will usually end at the meter, or the point of service. (Points of service can also be a transformer, vault, valve, or junction box.) Having public lines marked is free after creating a locate request at or by calling ‘811’. In the example below, public utilities include the main and lines running from the main to a gas, power or water meter.

Private Utilities

Private utilities extend beyond the public utility network and are typically the responsibility of the property owner. Examples would include power to detached garages, barns, pool heaters, and landscape lighting; as well as lines to septic systems, water lines between the water meter and your home, sewer lines between the city or county sewer system and your home, irrigation systems, invisible pet fences, propane, grills, and wells. Homeowners should hire a private locator to get private lines located. If you need someone to locate private utility lines, you can search online for ‘private utility locating companies near me.’