Utility Easement Information
If you have a fence, building, or landscaping on a utility easement and the utility needs access to your easement, River Falls Municipal Utilities is not responsible to restore any damaged property.
What is a Utility Easement?
Utility easements are strips of land used by utility companies to construct and maintain overhead electric, telephone and cable television lines and underground electric, water, sewer, natural gas, telephone, and cable television lines.
Who Owns the Easement?
The property owner owns all of the land including the utility easements. However, utilities have a right to access that portion of land which has been designated an easement. Easements remain with the land, even when property ownership transfers. Be aware that when alleys are vacated or abandoned, existing easements and rights still remain.
Why is it Important to Keep Easements Clear?
Keeping easements clear helps utility companies perform routine maintenance (e.g. replace a pole), construct improvement projects (e.g. install a new sanitary sewer), and repair utility lines during emergencies (e.g. remove a tree which has fallen on a power line during a lightning storm.)
What if I Build a Fence in an Easement?
All fences require an approved fence permit and City staff has the right to prohibit fences within easements entirely. This prevents fences from blocking access to drainageways or infrastructure that needs to be serviced. An obstruction in an easement can lengthen an outage or service disruption by making the easement holder (in most cases, the City utility company) move obstructions out of the way. Damage to fences or other obstructions in an easement is not the easement holder’s responsibility to repair or replace as the easement grants them the right to access those areas and do what it takes to maintain the easement.
Can I Place Decorative Landscaping in an Easement?
Decorative landscaping is allowed within the easement with the understanding that any materials placed within the boundaries of the easement are subject to damage and are not the responsibility of the utility owner.
How Do I Know if There Are Any Easements on My Property?
Check the title information to your property for specifics. Most easements are recorded and should have been identified by the title company when you bought your home. If your title doesn't reference a utility easement and you believe there are utilities crossing your property, check with us for further information. In the newer developments within River Falls, the easements are typically 10 feet across the front and back of your yard and along the sides of your yard, the easements are 5 feet wide. In the older sections of the city, the easements typically run across the back of the yard and are 8 feet in depth.