ALTA/NSPS Surveys: How to Sort Through Utility Location Details

August 15, 2018

Although the newest updates to the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Surveys were adopted two years ago, there continues to be questions related to the location of utilities. In this blog post, we will clear up some of the confusion.

Updates to the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements in Your ALTA Survey

The most significant change to the updated requirements was the elimination of what was known as Table A Item 11(a) Location of Utilities from the optional listing and its insertion into the 2016 Minimum Standards (Section 5.E.iv). The change requires the surveyors to work in accordance of the new Standards: locate, report and show any OBSERVED evidence of a utility that is on, over or beneath the ground and provides service to the surveyed property or crosses the property to serve others. This includes, but is not limited to visual appurtenances such as:

  • Pipeline markers
  • Manholes
  • Valves
  • Meters
  • Transformers
  • Pedestals
  • Clean-outs
  • Utility poles
  • Overhead lines
  • Guy wires

Description of the New Underground Utility Location Requirements – Table A Item 11

Previously known in the 2011 Optional Table A listing as Item 11(b), the location of underground utilities is now defined as Table A Item 11 in the 2016 listing. In both the previous and updated standards, the surveyor is required to report on observed evidence of utilities, as well as following methods of locating underground features. To do so, the surveyor can look at the plan provided by the client such as:

  • Development plans
  • As-built or prior surveys
  • Plans obtained from utility companies
  • Ground markings of underground features from a utility locator service.

No matter the source chosen by the surveyor, he or she should always state and reference which approach was used to report the locations.

What Caused the Utility Location Confusion for ALTA Surveys?

The confusion between the former and current utility location reporting requirement arises when parties relying on the survey are under incorrect impression that the only way to capture and show any utility information on the survey is when Optional Table A Item 11 is requested.This is not the case.

No matter what the situation, the surveyor must always address, report and show any observed evidence of utilities as per Section 5.E.iv of the Minimum Standards. The inclusion of Optional Item 11 need only be considered when the surveyor needs to understand a view of the underground services.

It’s important to note that Item 11 will add to the cost of the survey and most likely extend the timing of delivery. For more information, please refer to the "User Guide to Table A Items" in the Bock & Clark Handbook.

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