Why Are There Flags and Paint Marks in My Yard?

​At some point in time, you’ve probably noticed small colored flags placed in your yard or around town. Sometimes the ground is also marked with different colors of paint. If you have these flags and paint in your yard, it means that someone in the area is planning to dig, and they have contacted Montana 811 to file a locate request. When someone files a locate request with Montana 811, we notify the facility operators who have underground utilities in the proposed excavation area. These facility operators dispatch locators to the site who mark the location of utilities with different colored flags and paint that correspond to specific utility types.

What do the different colors mean? The American Public Works Association (APWA) has developed a color code for marking underground utilities, so it’s easy to immediately identify any utilities in the proposed excavation area. Here’s a key to the utility colors:

​It’s crucial to preserve and maintain the location of flags and paint. Obscured or displaced markings may lead to accidental damage. If you plan to dig, contact Montana 811 two full business days before you begin, excluding weekends and holidays. Contacting Montana 811 helps to prevent damage to underground utilities, injuries, and the disruption of essential services. Remember that filing a locate request is free, easy, and the law!