Recent Rain Causes Little Flags to Sprout

We just got back home from a short vacation to Ruidoso, NM. It rained some four inches while we were away, a very good thing in view of the ongoing drought in our part of the world. Pulling into the driveway we noticed little wire and plastic flags in a line from the street to the front fence.

In the back yard there was orange paint on the ground between the cable and phone boxes on the side of the house and the tree where one of the root barriers will soon be installed.

Tom the Contractor who will be installing four root barriers to keep tree roots away from our concrete slab foundation had said he uses an outside company to mark utility runs near the house in an effort to avoid cutting them.

My neighborhood has all underground utilities and is all electric. The electric lines run from the front street up to the houses. The phone and cable lines run from the back alley up to a side wall in the back yard. There are no gas lines.

I’m not too worried about Tom the Contractor severing electric lines in the front yard. I’m pretty sure they are encased in heavy conduit and Tom’s crew is supposed to use only hand tools to dig, no backhoe. I am concerned about them cutting the phone and cable lines. Over the years, both the phone and cable companies have replaced their lines at one time or another, and have often cut each other’s lines requiring more lines to be strung and buried. It’s an underground cable and wire soup back there and how do the utility marking folks know which ones are active?

I use a cable modem for Internet access and also have digital phone service with cable company. I use local phone company ISDN lines for digital patch in my voice-over studio. Thus I have a very keen interest in NOT having those lines cut when the root barrier goes in between the slab foundation and the nearby oak tree. I sure hope the lines where marked correctly.

One thing that gives me pause is a little flag in the front yard indicating an Atmos Energy gas line. Like I said, this is an all electric neighborhood. There are no gas lines. I’ve lived here 23 years, so I’m pretty sure of what utilities are here. I think what has been marked is an old broken and unused PVC lawn sprinkler line. If Utility Marking Dude can’t tell the difference between gas and irrigation lines, how can he tell the difference between active and old broken cable and phone lines? Stay tuned.

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