Asked on Apr 01, 2012

Electrical and water in same trench?

Edward S
by Edward S
Our church is wanting to run a water line and electrical service out to the corner of the lot that is about 300 ft in distance. Can the electrical and water line (PVC) be run in the same trench? We will drain the water line each winter, so how deep does it need to be?
  10 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Apr 02, 2012
    yes they can..the wire can be rated for burial or set in poly conduit. Normal depth is 18" for wire in PVC...deeper for direct burial
  • Belco Electric Belco Electric on Apr 05, 2012
    The National Electrical Code does not specify whether power and water can or cannot be run in the same trench. I have had inspectors give different views on the acceptance of this topic. Some say yes, others say no. Certainly, running them in the same trench can save time, but can also cause major headaches in the future where maintenance is concerned. Water lines are generally run at a minimum depth in GA of 8" deep. Depending on the installation method, power must be installed at a minimum coverage depth of 18". If in the future you need to access the power line to make repairs, you run a real risk of cutting the waterline that rests on top before reaching the electric lines. I tend to discourage running a power line in the same trench with any other utility. Though it may be accepted by the NEC, in the long run, it is not the best way.
  • Plumbrite Plumbrite on Apr 05, 2012
    you will need to bury the water at least 18" and any thing else in the same ditch needs to one foot to the side and one foot above.
  • Marko Jaric Marko Jaric on Dec 31, 2020

    Plum rite is wrong! They can be in the same trench.

  • Kris Kris on Jan 01, 2021

    Utiluty/Service lines are required to be buried t 48" where I live.

  • Eruly Eruly on Jan 26, 2022

    Indeed, the water must be buried at least 18"

  • Eruly Eruly on Jan 28, 2022

    Indeed, the water must be buried at least 18". Unlikely you want your communications to be damaged by accident. As for my house, all communications are lying about 32" below the ground. So you got the point: the deeper - the better. If you are planning to run an electrical line alongside, you need to ask electricians. It shouldn't be a problem, but you can't predict all nuances by internet post. Professional services, such as LIVE Services Group, will run both electrical and water lines for sure. Communication lines are not a thing you wanna save money on.

  • Bstiger Bstiger on Sep 10, 2023

    Marko Jaric is wrong--Plumb rite is correct. If water and power are buried in the same ditch, a minimum of 1 foot of separation is required; if gas and power are in same ditch, then a minimum of 24" of separation is required. This is not NEC, but it is IBC Code which governs every state in the US, and is usually enforced by all building code officials [if they have done their homework].

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Sep 11, 2023

    Water line: 1ft deep using water pipe. Electrical line Lay in side Plastic Pipe ( side by side would be ok! Mark pipe with Electric sign. Also at points along route (Beg. End etc.) Use small flag pipe run markers.

  • Deb K Deb K on Sep 11, 2023

    Hi Edward, there are guidelines for this, here is an example of them that i found, it may be different where you live though.

    • All Trenches must be a minimum of 36” deep.
    • If a 36-inch depth cannot be achieved, contact Lane Electric’s Engineering Department at 541-484-1151.
    • If trench is to be a joint trench (shared with other utilities) the following separations must be maintained:
    • 24 inches between gas and electric lines
    • 12 inches between water and electric lines
    • 24 inches between sewer and electric lines
    • 12 inches between communications and electric lines
    • If trench is to be power only, the ditch needs be wide enough to accommodate the conduit, i.e. a 4-inch ditch-witch trench is sufficient.
    • If the trench is dug through rough, rocky terrain, the conduit must be bedded with a minimum of 4 inches of sand.
    • All conduits must be gray Schedule 40 electrical PVC.
    • All primary conduit (7200V) must be 3 inches in diameter with 36-inch radius long sweeping elbows at any 90° bend.