Call 811 Before You Dig to Save Time, Money and Lives

Every six minutes a utility line is damaged by underground digging.

April 06, 2015 | By Justin Felles

Do you know where the underground utility lines are located in your yard?

If not, April is National Safe Digging Month and a great time to learn where those utility lines are buried. Before tackling digging projects, it is recommended that you call 811 for free markings of utility lines and important safety tips.

“Even with the markings, you should still dig cautiously,” said Don Neal, Southern California Edison (SCE) director of Corporate Environmental, Health and Safety. “Markings are simply guidelines to keep you safe, so remain vigilant while doing all digging projects.”

If you call 811 at least two days before digging, a professional will mark your underground lines, free of charge, to help keep you safe. Calling 811 is also required by California law. According to the Common Ground Alliance, this is a step that was overlooked by 48 percent of homeowners in 2013 — with an underground utility line damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig before calling.

Call 811 before starting any of these projects:

  • Sprinkler or irrigation system installations.
  • Planting trees and shrubs. Not only can digging a hole to plant trees cause you to hit a line, but some trees, such as willows, have aggressive root systems that can damage underground lines over time.
  • Ponds. Experts recommend placing ponds between a depth of 24 and 36 inches — making this project one of the riskiest to hitting buried utility lines.
  • Fences. Utility lines are often buried along property lines.
  • Mailboxes. Much like fences, mailboxes are placed in close proximity to property lines in common areas of underground lines.

For a full list of tips and guidelines, visit You can also download the DigAlert Express online app to request marking service.

Topics: Safety