Don’t risk your safety by taking a shortcut — if you’re a professional excavator or a do-it-yourself homeowner, safe digging always requires identifying underground utilities before you pick up the shovel. Knowing where underground utility lines are buried before you dig will help protect you from injury and prevent damages to utilities, service disruptions and potential fines and repair costs. Whether you’re installing a sprinkler system, planting a tree, or building a fence, every job requires a call—Even if you’ve called before for a similar project. The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in one common area. Marked lines show you the approximate location of underground lines and help prevent undesired consequences. Safe digging always requires a call to 811 to get your underground utility lines marked for free.
There are 170,000 underground utilities damaged annually such as pipelines, electrical, power, water, telecommunications, and cables across the nation. One out of every three incidents is the result of not calling 811.
Here’s how calling 811 prior to digging works:
- A free call to 811 makes it easy for your local one call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig.
- Call at least 72 hours (depending upon the state) prior to digging to ensure enough time for utility lines to be properly marked.
- When you call 811, a representative from the local one call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.
- The local one call center will notify affected utility companies, who then send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.
- Once lines have been properly marked, proceed carefully if your work is near the underground lines.
811 does not replace your local one call number. The One Call process will remain the same and continue to notify your local affected utility companies to mark your underground lines for free. 811 eliminates the confusion of multiple “Call Before You Dig” numbers by providing one recognized national number to get your lines marked.
Each color code provides a universal indicator as to what is buried below ground.
- Red – Electric
- Orange – Communications, Telephone/CATV
- Blue – Potable Water
- Green – Sewer/Drainage
- Yellow – Gas/Petroleum Pipe Line
- Purple – Reclaimed Water
Don’t lead yourself into an accident! Think and plan ahead!