In the coming weeks and months after the weather warms up, many of us will start working on projects that involve digging on our properties. The tree you are planting, the fence posts you are digging, or the irrigation system you are installing — are all projects for which you would likely need to request an underground locate.

Even projects that don’t seem very big must have underground utilities located if you are going to dig. It is the law. There could be more than just dirt you are digging into in your project area, so it is important to call for underground locates before you begin digging. Laws vary by state, but if you are digging a foot or more in depth, it is necessary to request an underground locate through the 811 Call Before You Dig hotline.

Utilities buried in the ground in our region include phone, fiber, cable TV, water, sewer, natural gas and electric. Beyond the devastating risks of death or injury, consider you could be held liable for repair costs if you damage a utility’s underground facilities, and there likely would be an inconvenience to you if the utility is serving your home.

If you have a contractor doing work for you, the contractor is responsible for requesting the locate. Utilities do not locate private or secondary lines on your property; those are your responsibility to locate.

There are provisions in the law for emergency locates. Those should only be used when a locate is needed to restore power, fix gas or water leaks, or truly is some type of emergency that needs to be repaired.

Remember: Before you dig, call 811 for a locate. It’s easy, free and the law.

When calling in, mark the area where you plan to dig with white paint or flagging.

Call 811 at least two full business days before you plan to dig. The 811 call center will contact all the utilities known to be in the area to come and locate their facilities. If you plan to install a new fence on Saturday morning, you must call in your locate by Wednesday.

Do not dig until all known facilities are marked. Please verify all companies identified on your locate request have responded. Please remember that more than one electric or communication company may exist within your digging area. Locaters will respond using color coded paint or flagging (see color key below). Marks should indicate the responding company.

Hand dig within close vicinity of located facilities so as to not damage them.

Maintaining the marked location of utilities during your digging is your responsibility – per the color codes, below.


If you follow the proper procedures you can ensure your personal safety and the integrity of your communities utilities, at the same time. Until next time…Work Safe & Be Safe!

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